Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions and CRM products are a particular breed of business software application that allows a company to measure and control all of its contacts with customers.
What do Customer Relationship Management (CRM) products do?
CRM solutions can be used to measure and manage customer contacts made by phone, fax, mail, email, IM or face to face.
The data that is collected can then be used for research and analysis of the customer relationship.
The aim of CRM software is to maximise the returns from each individual customer and to determine trends in customer behaviour, in order to manage things like product development and enhancement, customer service and capacity planning.
What are the key benefits of CRM?
By creating and mining a customer database, CRM software can help businesses to work out who the high value customers are, and their buying habits.
By doing this, the business can target their key accounts for special promotions or treatment.
Firms can also find out whether or not their key customers are as profitable as they imagined, or not.
How can CRM help the sales team?
CRM software can help your customer facing staff, particularly the salespeople, to talk to customers and prospective clients with more confidence.
The CRM system can, in theory, give them a purchasing history, with any relevant trends and issues related to an individual customer, so the sales agent can anticipate their needs.
The main ways in which a CRM system can assist the sales team are in cross and up-selling opportunities, recognising customer drift, measuring sales performance, and determining customer trends, customer margins and customer segmentation.
How about customer services?
CRM can be used to set up an automated customer feedback system, designed to improve customer satisfaction and reduce waste in the service cycle.
By allowing the customers to take part in the process, they can help a business to serve them better, and CRM software can facilitate the process.
What’s the return on investment from CRM?
CRM is one of the more straightforward IT systems to prove its worth, as sales teams are able to quickly measure the improvements in their sales processes, and the number of deals they close.
The improvements in customer service can also be measured over a longer period through the use of customer satisfaction surveys.
CRM also allows you to measure things like the number of returned products or the response to email campaigns, or even the number of complaints.
Resources: CRM systems
Amdocs sells what it terms Customer Experience Systems, with Customer Management being part of its platform offering. Customer Management includes a Smart Agent Desktop, an automated end-to-end ordering system, and customer-centric service and support.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a popular CRM system, boasting a fast deployment, and flexible platform, with an affordable price tag. The CRM tool is part of the sprawling Dynamics line of business products, which include ERP and supply chain management tools.
- Open CRM
OpenCRM has a hosted CRM system developed and supported in the UK. The user licenses are free for an unlimited number of users. OpenCRM itself is an easy-to-use and fully featured CRM application.
- Oracle Peoplesoft
Oracle’s PeopleSoft Enterprise Customer Relationship Management system is part of the Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise product suite. PeopleSoft Enterprise CRM has several components including CRM Analytics, Marketing Partner Relationship Management, Sales and Service.
- Oracle Siebel CRM
Oracle’s Siebel CRM is a feature-rich platform with over 20 industry specific versions, and options to use it as a hosted ‘on demand’ system, or as an installed ‘on premise’ deployment. The platform caters for small businesses up to large global corporations.
Salesforce CRM is a hosted, pay-as-you-go application which is customisable and available through the web from any location. As such, there are no software installation requirements or upgrades.
- SAP CRM
SAP has an established CRM offering which is being used in over 25 industries according to the vendor. SAP CRM is designed to help marketing and sales teams; and boost customer retention and loyalty.
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