what is crm

What is CRM? Customer Relationship Management- Explained

What is Customer Relationship Management?

Customer Relationship Management stands for CRM, which is a system that business processes can implement to measure and track its sales activities.

This could mean information like how many leads, prospects, and customers are there in your company’s database, along with information about them, like their names, email addresses, phone numbers, their purchase history, and others.

CRM system also helps in tracking how frequently your sales team gets in contact with your prospective leads and customers, and what those conversations were about.

With the help of these metrics found in CRM, your customer relationship manager can also set up custom reporting plan to find out how efficient your sales department is performing every day.

Most of the Customer Relationship Management software systems are extremely customizable, so the parameters that you can measure and analyze with the help of a CRM are quite expansive.

So briefly, when someone asks what is a CRM system, it refers to a methodology, software and Internet capabilities that help companies to manage and strategize their customer relations with potential and current customers.

Companies most often use this software application to organize automate and synchronize marketing, sales, technical support and customer services activities.
So be it a marketing CRM or a Customer Relationship Management platform used for Customer Support activities, both these applications are available as on-premises or through SaaS (Software as a Service).

Hence, CRM solutions provide business organizations with relevant customer data so that they can offer products or services that present and would be customers want, provide enhanced customer service, up-sell or cross-sell more successfully, close deals, retain customers and also understand who their customers are.

Apart from this CRM is also capable of tracking history, schedule follow-ups, add notes and organize the next steps that are needed for conversion of a prospect to customer and providing customer support throughout the customer’s lifecycle journey.

Therefore, CRM for small business and large enterprises ensures the organization that they never miss an opportunity to close particular deals or grow company accounts.

The most common traditional functions of Customer Relationship Management include:

  • Sales forecasting
  • Content and File sharing
  • Instant communication between employees
  • Email integration and automation
  • Dashboard based analysis

However, modern CRM systems such as ConvergeHub and many others go much further, to incorporate customer service systems in the platform, to provide an all-inclusive cloud-based ecosystem for customer data handling and analysis.

History of the Rise of CRM

Now that we know what does CRM stand for, let us peek into the past and find the historical growth of this software.

CRM developers can trace their roots back to the 1980s, when database marketing, which helped in collecting and analyzing customer information, came forth and emerged as an improved and new platform of direct marketing.

Robert and Kate Kestnbaum, are the trailblazer in this area who introduced metrics like the application of financial modeling and econometrics along with customer lifetime value (CLV) to marketing strategies.

During the mid-80s, applications such as ACT based on Contact Management Software (CMS) appeared on the business software market.

These newfound programs let companies organize and store customer contact data, basically functioning as “digital Rolodexes”.

Later, during the 1990s, CRM made some significant advances. CMS (Contact Management Software) evolved into SFA (Sales Force Automation) software. One of the leading providers of the SFA platform was Siebel Systems.

By 1995, the acronym CMS changed into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) which is what we find now when we search for ‘definition CRM on the internet.

Progressively with time, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software entered the business arena with vendors like Baan and SAP and this led to further competition and subsequent growth in the CRM technology, whereby new sales and service features were added to the CRM platform.

In the recent times, e-CRM vendors arrived into the scenario and the first mobile CRM applications got introduced along with SaaS CRM application, for enhancement of mobility and added value to the product.

As the burst in the technology of the early 2000s affected the CRM industry, and Paul Greenberg’s book “CRM at the Speed of Light” arrived on the bookstore’s shelves, the CRM industry started focusing on building comprehensive CRM platforms, as well as software that could interoperate with silo customer relationship oriented legacy systems.

In the present times, cloud-based and SaaS CRM solutions began to conquer the business market, thanks to their speed of integration, lower cost, and architectural flexibility.

By the end of 2012, most of the CRMs sold were SaaS-based CRM, and the CRM market experienced more than 12% growth, which was 3 times more than all other enterprise software solutions sold at that time.

Not long ago, with the growth of social media networks like Twitter and Facebook, the term “Social-CRM” came into action, which fostered customer relationship management by communicating with customers through social media platforms.

According to statistics, driven by influx of investments in Customer Experience (CX) initiatives and digital marketing, the CRM software market reached $20.4 Billion in the year 2013, which is approximately 14% growth from 2012.

According to 2013, Garner Press Release:

“Organizations of all sizes sought easier-to-deploy alternatives to replace legacy systems, implement net-new applications, or provide alternative complementary functionality.”

Who uses CRM?

There are many departments within a business organization, which uses CRM platform for providing a complete 360-degree view of the customer’s history with them.

However, it is important to understand that any CRM software is as good as the data it receives and stores within its database.

Sales

The sales team of an organization uses CRM software to record sales opportunities and contacts. In most cases, CRM system prompts or reminds the sales reps to follow up on a lead or activity.

Sales Managers also use this platform for studying and monitoring where a contact is in the buyer’s journey and subsequently watch their progress in closing.

With CRM Sales Managers can find increased visibility into stalled deals and find ways and means to move them along.

Marketing

Marketing personals also exploit CRM software to use its contact database to better promote the organization’s products and services. Information found in the CRM system provides unparalleled insight into market dynamics to find where the company enjoys success or needs improvements.

Marketing CRM uses automation feature of this application for lead scoring and email follow-ups with prospective leads and customers, freeing up a considerable amount of time away from these manual processes.

Using CRM a marketing professional will find more time for focusing on new creative business development ideas than wasting time finding prospects.

Customer Support Service

Another important benefit of CRM implementation in businesses is that it is an excellent tool for providing post-sales support to the customers, which enhances the Customer Experience (CX) among the users of the products and services of the company.

The Customer

CRM platforms those that include e-Commerce capabilities, allow customers to place orders and provide the company’s customer service department an early heads-up, once any customer lands up with an issue. This quick response potentiality of CRM application reduces the chances of the buyers to go elsewhere.

What are the different types of CRM?

Operational

The basic goal of any CRM is to automate and integrate sales, marketing, and customer support activities. CRM systems typically have a dashboard, which provides an overall view of these 3 functions of a customer on a single page, summarizing all of the relationships between the customer and the company.

Operational CRMs are made up of 3 main components:

  1. Sales force automation
  2. Marketing automation
  3. Service automation

Analytical

The role of Analytical CRM is to analyze the customer data, which are collected from several sources and make more informed decisions by using techniques like pattern recognition, data mining, and correlation.

Collaborative

The collaborative task of a CRM is to share customer information across the organization and among external shareholders (like distributors, vendors, and suppliers), providing directions for marketing of product and services related to the customers.

What customers benefits by implementing CRM?

As implementing CRM helps in serving the customers better on day-to-day processes, and as less need for interacting with the company for different problems enhances customer satisfaction of the buyers, CRM helps in increasing the value and brand recognition of any product or services.

There are 8 main benefits that are recognized as value drivers with the implementation of CRM:

  1. Increased ability to target profitable customers
  2. Find assistance across channels
  3. Enhanced sales force’s efficiency and effectiveness
  4. Improved and better pricing
  5. Find customized products and services
  6. Find improved customer support and service
  7. Receive individualized marketing emails and messages (aka Campaigns)
  8. Connect customers of all channels on a single platform

Evaluating and CRM Comparison

Now if you are sold on the idea of a CRM system, you still need to make a further decision as to what platform you require for implanting the software in your organization.

Do you need Desktop, Server, or Cloud?

Be it Client-based, Server-based or on Cloud, here is a diagrammatic comparative illustration of different ways you can run CRM, which depends on the requirement of your organization. (Picture Courtesy: Salesforce-Europe)

what is crm

How to avoid mismanagement of a CRM?

CRM software is designed to manage customer data, so using this software platform for purposes outside its operational periphery will reduce the overall usefulness of the system.

Here is a list of “DON’T” that you should adhere to while using a CRM:

  1. Do not make your CRM manage inventory or generate invoices unless you have the appropriate third party software, which is efficient in these processes integrated into your CRM.
  2. Do not encourage people to work with leads and/or deals outside the CRM system. For allowing this practice will delay the adoption time of the system.
  3. You can attach documents or emails associated with a sales opportunity to the CRM system records, but do not use them for project management or R&D designs.

How to implement CRM?

Correctly implementing a CRM platform for the first time can really be a daunting task.

Primarily one need to hunt down and compile all the existing contact data in a .CVS file, for which most CRM is going to provide you with elaborate guidance as to how you can create your .CSV file.

After you have completed the task and is ready to go, you will be next guided how to begin the import process. All good CRMs have a relatively easy process for importing and mapping all your contacts.

Next, once the contacts have been imported into the CRM system, you need to learn how you can create your custom emails, set up email campaigns and follow-ups, learn to group your customers into segments, create sales pipeline stages and much more.

How long does it take the CRM to bring results?

CRM starts creating value and working for your business, the very moment you enter your first lead. One most pertinent thing about using this platform is to ensure that all the leads are processed through your CRM platform. This will guarantee that your sales, marketing, and customer support team will adopt the new business solution quickly so that you start earning the return on your investments right away.

As the sales process becomes much more transparent and visible when you use a CRM to track it, so CRM helps in finding where the bottlenecks are, as you can easily see which reps are following the process and which are not abiding by the rules.

The sales pipeline visibility of a CRM helps in understanding whether your business has an adequate number of leads and deals in the sales process that are required for meeting your cash flow needs and/or your required revenue goals.

Does CRM affect large business enterprises and SMBs differently?

CRM is a platform that works as an organization’s memory bank, regardless of the size of its businesses.

In large enterprises, CRM is most helpful to collaborate and coordinate, when a global team is assigned to a single or more than one customer or deals. Many big organizations even implement this system as a way to install method and discipline in its sales force.

For small businesses, which are also known as SMBs, CRM is mostly used as a communication tool, which also acts as a data engine for marketing its email campaigns. The capability of a CRM for tracking sales processes with the help of its built-in-efficiencies is another most valuable aspect of a CRM, which is often taken into consideration by small businesses.

Why choose ConvergeHub, the #1 Easiest Converged CRM for SMBs?

It is amply clear now that that cloud-based CRM is the right choice for companies of any size. So when it comes to choosing a specific solution. ConvergeHub is the obvious choice.

Here are some of the reasons why:

EASE OF USE

ConvergeHub CRM is as easy to use as the interactive social media platforms and websites that you use every day.  You can login to ConvergeHub from anywhere, look into and update your customer data or work with your colleagues any time as per your desire. So just, get started right away and see the big impact that ConvergeHub CRM can bring to your business in no time.

EASY TO CUSTOMIZE

Once you are a ConvergeHub user you can change the workflow, add fields, create sales processes, and others with a click of a mouse. To be truthful- ConvergeHub is that easy.

The result? High productivity due to the use of seamless automation technology, as you had never seen before.

FULLY FEATURED CONVERGED CRM

You can take care of your business with ConvergeHub on any device (Desktop, Android and iPhone) from anywhere. Share your customer’s profile company-wide, so that your employees can look up at the same up-to-date data in sales, marketing, and customer support departments in your company.

With the help of ConvergeHub CRM, you can also integrate hundred of useful apps to your platform- to add the exact functionality you need for your businesses.

UNPARALLELED SUPPORT FACILITY

Unlike many other big names in the CRM industry, ConvergeHub’s service team not only replies to your support emails, but you can also avail one-to-one customer support by discussing your problems with our customer support executives over the phone or online.

Conclusion

Now that you know what is customer relationship management, if you find this article informative, do write your comments in the box below.

References:
Direct Newsline, November 18, 2002 (1).

“A Brief History of Customer Relationship Management,” CRM Switch, December 2013.

Columbus, Louis, “2013 CRM Market Share Update: 40% of CRM Systems Sold are SaaS-Based,” Forbes.com, April 26, 2013.

SearchCRM.techtarget.com (2).

“Market Share Analysis: Customer Relationship Management Software, Worldwide, 2013,” Joanne M. Correia, Yanna Dharmasthira and Chris Pang, Gartner, May 2014.

Understanding customer relationship management (CRM): People, process and technology.
Injazz J. Chen (Department of Operations Management and Business Statistics, College of Business Administration, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
And Karen Popovich (Department of Operations Management and Business Statistics, College of Business Administration, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)