Some small and mid-sized business owners may at some point hear the term “customer relationship management” and ask themselves what that means. Others may already be familiar with CRM, but have some misconceptions about what CRM software can do for their business.
No matter which side of the fence you find yourself on, chances are that you have the same questions as many other companies throughout the business world. Soffront Software answers some of the most frequently asked questions about CRM solutions and how they can be beneficial to your business.
• What is a Customer Relationship Management system anyway?
A customer relationship management system integrates sales, marketing, and customer service information in one centralized, manageable program. It enables a business, particularly one whose primary focus is sales, to be able to keep all of its information in one easy-to-manage location.
• What’s the difference between on-premise CRM solutions and cloud CRM?
An on-premise CRM program is essentially software that requires a physical installation onto your computer hardware and regular upgrades or updates. The company pays a software licensing fee, which is sometimes charged per computer and other times paid through a flat fee for the program. All of your customer data is saved on an on-site server, and for the most part, your IT staff is responsible for service and maintenance of the product.
A cloud CRM is a hosted CRM application that is accessed online. There is often minimal to no installation on office computers, all data is stored on a remote server, and the business pays a monthly subscription fee. The zero footprint aspect of the software eliminates the need for a CRM-dedicated IT department because service and maintenance is done entirely by the host company.
• How can a CRM help my small business?
While you may think that only large operations are a good fit for CRM solutions, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, a small- to mid-sized business may benefit more than larger companies from CRM applications. Customer relationship management systems are mainly used to improve efficiency by incorporating consumer information into one system. Consolidation benefits small businesses because as the business grows, they are able to keep everything in one place and track their growth.
• How do I know if the CRM program I chose is working for my business?
A good CRM application will have the ability to compile reports on customer relations, satisfaction, and interaction with your sales staff. Analytics are a crucial part of sales and marketing; this information gives you a comprehensive overview of how your system is performing and whether or not it’s working for you.
• Do I need to get an IT department for my CRM?
It depends on whether you choose an on-site CRM or an on-demand (cloud) CRM. Choosing an on-premise option for your CRM solutions means that you will probably need an IT department to do your service and maintenance. This can be a budgetary burden because of the need for extra staff in addition to the cost of the program itself and any appropriate updates and equipment.
By contrast, a cloud CRM application is handled remotely by a host company. The monthly fee therefore includes maintenance, updates, and servicing, which can make a cloud CRM the more economical of the two options.