What is the difference between Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Life Cycle Management (CLM) software? It’s one that’s somewhat subtle, and there’s some ambiguity in how people perceive the market for these two types of enterprise resources. But while CLM and CRM are very similar, they’re not the same thing.
Yes, both of them involve uploading quite a lot of client and customer data. They may have many of the same functions in helping sales teams to interact with customers, or to document what goes on through e-commerce portals. But these two separate tools are angled in different ways to help businesses evolve.
Customer Relationship Management is one of the biggest new buzzwords in enterprise vendor software. CRM has become a very standard component of what businesses use to compete in the data-centric and digitally connected 21st century.
The core focus of Customer Relationship Management is on preserving information about the interactions between a customer and a business. This concept is broadly applied to CRM software suites that do all sorts of things, from creating detailed files and dossiers on individual clients, to tracking a deal through its various phases, and utilizing business intelligence to target messages to particular customer sets. The key word here is “relationship” — features of CRM are designed to help businesses to work more closely with their customers, and meet them on a more familiar footing.
Customer Lifecycle Management is a little different.
First and foremost, Customer Lifecycle Management is an analytical tool. It’s often focused on showing the outcomes of certain business processes, including those that rely on a Customer Relationship Management platform. In fact, multiple experts online talk about Customer Lifecycle Management as “measuring your CRM program’s success over time.”
There’s a lot of talk about CLM metrics, and CLM as a metrics-based approach. There’s the idea that Customer Lifecycle Management is looking analytically at an entire chain of transactions and processes to present the results in a digestible way.
In Customer Lifecycle Management, resources may categorize different levels of customer interaction, for example, separating the customer interest phase from the transaction process, and developing another category for loyalty programs and customer retention. In other words, CLM software might focus on keeping already established customers by evaluating how likely these customers are to go somewhere else. Looking at things like purchase history, post-sales service and support, and a customer’s general history of interactions, Customer Lifecycle Management seeks to help companies to embrace larger numbers of customers, and keep them in the fold over time.
So again, Customer Lifecycle Management software may be telling businesses about how their Customer Relationship Management platforms work. Beyond this, there might be quite a bit of overlap between CLM and CRM. For example, much of the analytics that CLM platforms crunch will come directly from the files and folders created by the CRM system. In some cases, CLM and CRM solutions will have overlapping features that involve tracking customer behavior or identifying customers in some way.
The thing to remember is that CRM is much more of a common business offering, and that it’s a main driver of customer processes for many businesses. Each company has to decide what type of CRM product fits them the best. Companies can consider:
- what type of customer data is most important to them
- how CRM solutions should be hooked up to middleware or to data centers
- what types of extra functionality might help the business to sell better
- how CRM can be used in the field, attached to digital phones or mobile devices
One way to get help with CLM and CRM solutions is to use a selection platform that can help business shoppers to contrast various tools. By getting information on all of these different products in one easy location, companies can start to brainstorm exactly what they need out of both CLM and CRM solutions and figure out which vendor offerings fit their budgets, their strategic business partnership models, and their operational needs.