by Kayleigh Alexandra

The business landscape of today is one that spans many platforms, taking multiple forms. As well as hard data such as sales and overheads, your business will have a presence across social media and your website. As your consumers communicate with you online, it’s important that you pay attention to what they’re saying. To really streamline business and collate all this information into one place, more and more brands are implementing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in the workplace. But what is CRM, and how can it benefit your business? Read on to find out.

What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

CRM stands for customer relationship management, and refers to software that is used to store, manage, and analyse customer data. It is essentially a hub that contains information about existing or potential customers, sales, targets, and other metrics. Armed with this data, businesses can track, monitor, and improve the way they work.

As an example, let’s a say a business collects data with Excel spreadsheets. There’s one spreadsheet for customers’ personal information, one for sales data, another for potential customers, and so on. This data isn’t connected in any way, so the business can’t quickly or easily extrapolate useful or meaningful information from it. A CRM keeps your customer data together in a single hub, providing you with an overview that lets you streamline your business.

Your CRM tracks a range of business aspects, from your rankings in search queries to how your consumers are engaging with your business. By monitoring so many aspects of your business, it can enhance your sales funnel, create and track potential leads, generate data-led business forecasts, and general improve your customers’ experience. It’s a great way to enhance productivity, and an option worth considering for entrepreneurs.

How can I benefit from a CRM?

A CRM is a useful tool that is successfully used by a range of businesses. But what other benefits does it provide, and how can your business benefit from it?

Better communication and sharing of information

Communication — or rather, a lack of it — is often one of the main reasons businesses experience issues. If information is communicated effectively between teams and individuals, things can fall down the cracks and negatively impact your customer’s experience.

But by centralising your customer data, everyone in your business can view and work with the same information. Messages and updates can be passed on easily, meaning there are no more missed sales opportunities or unhappy customers. Tasks can also be created and assigned from within the CRM, creating workflows that proactively deal with problems or situations.

And most CRMs use cloud-based software, meaning you and your team can access it from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. CRMs provide your business with seamless sharing of customer and sales information, reducing friction and genuinely streamlining your working practices.

Enhanced reporting capabilities

The importance of data collection and analysis in business should not be underestimated. By collecting and reporting on a range of metrics, businesses can accurately forecast and generate insights to can help your business grow.

Sophisticated CRMs combine your information into a single interface, letting you automatically create comprehensive reports to better inform yourself and your team. Detailed reports can help identify areas of concern that need to be addressed, or provide insight into how you can allocate your resources better. With a range of data updated in real-time, your CRM can help you make smart decisions for your business that will have a positive, lasting impact.

Better data organisation

The key to a successful business is knowing who your customers are and what they want. The more you know about them, the better you know how to make them happy. Before, you might be working with isolated, disorganised systems that require considerable work to analyse. A CRM achieves this by monitoring and collating data from a wide range of channels, including your website, emails, social media, and so on.

This information is then organised in a way that makes it easily and readily accessible for every member of your team to use. By storing all relevant and useful information in a single place, you can quickly and easily get the data you need.

What CRM should I choose?

There are a range of different customer relationship management tools available on the market, ranging from basic free options to more comprehensive paid versions. Ultimately, the CRM you choose will depend on your business and its specific requirements.

For example, if you’re running a basic online estore, several CRMs come with advanced ecommerce functionalities built-in to let you integrate sales data and nurture leads. However, if your business is less retail-focused, for example providing translation services, you might need a CRM that has more sophisticated project management functionalities.

Before committing to a CRM, first identify what key functions your business requires, then search for a CRM that meets those needs. Sign up for a free trial or request a demo first to get a feel for it before purchasing, and ask yourself the following:

  • Is it easy and intuitive to use?
  • Can it integrate with other software you use?
  • Is it easy to roll out, and will you need technical assistance to help you with this?
  • Is the data well protected? What security measures are in place?

Once you’ve chosen your CRM, you’ll be able to effectively streamline your business with speed. While it might take some time to adjust, the benefits are well worth the transition.

CRMs can provide your business with a range of benefits, from better data organisation to improved analytical and reporting functions. Do your research before committing and, once it’s been implemented, you can enjoy safe and secure data handling and a more efficient business overall.

Kayleigh Alexandra is a writer for Micro Startups, a website delivering advice and insight on micro businesses from a range of industries. We are passionate about charitable giving through growth hacking. Want to know more? Find us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.

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