You hear a lot about CRM these days, and it may seem like some sort of new, technology-based concept or buzzword, but CRM has been a thing for a long time just under various other names. It’s an extremely important component in business, and yes, the modern definition does rely heavily on software to handle it, because that’s the best way to do it. Computationally, CRM is much more diverse and robust than when done the old-fashioned way with paper and people monitoring statistics. As a matter of fact, CRM is one of the first things that drove non-military and non-scientific computer development in the 1950s.
CRM is relatable to other business software solutions, working alongside them, famously things like POS and various broad financial tools. In short, CRM stands for customer relations management or customer relationship management, depending on who you ask. This is a broad-catching term for handling the initial conversion of a lead to a customer, their purchases and financial history, any disputes or complaints, up sells and so forth. Generally speaking, this is invaluable to sales, because it allows you to model what’s known as the customer journey, the process from conversion from a lead all the way to final satisfaction and moving on in cases where it isn’t a repeat customer or a subscription-based service.
CRM is critical not just for sales but for customer service and various business modeling tasks, giving a broader picture of when customers convert, when they accept up sells, and it’s a good way to find out what recurring problems are or recurring complaints are the customers may have. This information, with more robust technology, can be used to model predictive situations for where problems may arise, and allow for significant business intelligence for providing better services, better customer support and better sales tactics.
Modernly, when looking for CRM software, you probably want to go with software as a service because it’s the easiest thing to come to terms with. Software as a service will easily integrate with your existing business tools, allowing shared information and shared calculation and modeling, and it is compatible with anything they can run a modern W3C compatible browser. The downside of software as a service is that it is an ongoing bill that you have to pay, and it’s very difficult to rollback updates in cases where they make changes you don’t like to the software. However, when compared to natively-installed software, which requires expensive licenses and constant reinstalls and maintenance to keep it compatible with ever-changing business machines, you can see why the simple subscription and version locking of software as a service is a small price to pay for stability and guaranteed compatibility.
When shopping for your CRM, look for high interoperability with standard, widely-used tools and office suite’s, which allows for that shared teamwork model for calculating things and analyzing things, and focus heavily on customization, available extensions to customize it for your specific business and of course ease-of-use. If you are interested in CRM software, we recommend reading some of our other more specific pieces on individual types of CRM, various models of CRM and the general feature sets that are most sought after by buyers.