In the fast paced world in which our businesses currently operate, customer relationships often determine the success or failure of a company. As such, organizations must prioritize these relationships and how they are managed. One of the best ways to accomplish this daunting task is to employ customer relationship management software, or CRM. See the below steps detailing how to choose a CRM.
Customer relationship management involves any communication with customers or potential customers. However, since not all businesses are the same, different features will be important for each organization, and some will not apply. Use a checklist to see the available parts of CRM, and write down the ones that are of interest. Then, rank the features in order of importance to the company. This list creates a starting point for the search.
Once the desired features are selected, go a step further and pick the ones necessary for the company. Look specifically at currently unattained goals a CRM solution could help reach, needs from now to five years in the future, and the systems ability to grow with the organization.
During this step, evaluate the cost and benefit of the program. When considering price, keep in mind any server upgrades, maintenance, access costs, and licensing. Look at the customization options of different systems. Many CRMs are industry specific and can be tailored to fit each company’s niche. Think about integration. How easy will it be to incorporate the new CRM to the current workflow? List ways the CRM will improve the company’s productivity and performance.
Don’t forget to look at after purchase support. Ensure that the CRM has excellent customer service ratings to back up their product. Research to find out whom is responsible for repairing issues and the average response time. Also, look at the available training for employees.
Assess CRM’s Impact
After gathering requirements for the company, assess how the CRM will fit. This step ensures full utilization of the features selected. A CRM with an impressive list of capabilities will be ineffective if they are not put to use across the organization. Speak with industry contacts and colleagues about customer relationship management software they use or have used. Take an inventory of what worked and what didn’t to include in the assessment. Develop an ideal workflow to present to CRM designers. They can then tell if their product can accomplish the workflow envisioned, or suggest modifications.
Learn more about the benefits of CRM for small business.
Choose Top Contenders
By now, a few top CRM companies should rise to the top as the best candidates. Choose a few of them and request free trials of the software. Evaluate each according to the same criteria, such as, ease of use, flexibility, and desired features. Run tests based on real world data, and ask the opinions of select individuals who will be utilizing the software.
Keep in mind the cost of each option and the benefits they offer. Perhaps one is more costly, but has superior customer service, or has the flexibility to adapt quickly to changes should they arise. Also, keep in mind future costs, including costs to add features later or added costs due to a larger customer base.
The steps taken to decide how to choose CRM software should not be frustrating or confusing. There are many resources available to assist in obtaining an understanding of CRM, selecting features, and comparing companies. Take full advantage of the tools, and make sure to ask questions during the evaluation process. As the developers of customer relationship management software, customer relationships should be at the forefront of their business!