What is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system?Without customers, you don’t have a business, and therefore a vital process that most businesses need to ensure is watertight is customer relationship management.
There are a number of off the shelf packages that can help you with this, which range from open source, free of charge products through to enterprise level packages. In my experience the hidden cost is actually within the implementation of these packages – either the cost of consultants to get these systems up and running, or the cost of not setting them up right in the first place!
Effectively, a CRM system will allow you to centrally manage all relationships with your customers, providing centralised visibility of quotations, discussions, relationship management tasks, and ultimately the pipeline of new business that should be generated. They can now also hook up to email marketing systems, accounting systems, EPOS systems and websites to provide a hub for your customers’ data.
Whilst these sound very impressive, it is vital to make sure that you only use the systems that you need, as again it is very tempting to over engineer the system so that it includes steps which aren’t necessary for your business. A very simple CRM system can be made by simply having customer cards, noting last contact on each card, and filing them in date order by last contact made. You can then simply review the pile of cards regularly and contact prospects from the bottom up!
Whether the system is computerised, manual, complicated or simple, the key message here is simply to make sure that you have a system to keep in touch with your customers and prospects.