Since its introduction in 1986, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software has enabled businesses to improve the quality of their service, streamline business processes and manage information.

However, despite a recent survey by the Institute of Sales & Marketing Management (ISMM) finding that 77% of organisations in the UK now use a CRM system, reports indicate that a disappointing number of small businesses are still reluctant to implement the software into the running of their business, due to a lack of knowledge.

With so many technological advancements in the way in which we can now engage with our customers, it can be a daunting prospect to have to learn about new software, and even feel a little embarrassing to admit that we don’t know it all.

So we’ve answered the questions that have been plaguing you from the very beginning about CRM.

The Burning Questions…

What is CRM?

Fundamentally, CRM is a customer-focused philosophy.

As a business you’ll be aware that your success can hinge on the relationship you build with your customers. A CRM solution is business software to facilitate the execution of customer relationship management, so that you can ensure all communication is streamlined, and customers can feel as though they’re being treated like a person rather than just another number. CRM software is designed to record and manage customer data, helping your business to anticipate and respond to the needs of customers and develop the value of the relationship.

How can CRM benefit my business?

Many studies have revealed that customer retention is vital to a businesses success more than acquisition. In fact, it’s well known that happy, loyal customers are key to sustainable growth. CRM can help in aiding this retention and CRM has seemingly endless benefits, however if CRM software is not underpinned by the right culture and strategy the benefits will not be realised. A properly implemented CRM solution can facilitate increases in collaboration between the company’s employee’s, service levels and customer satisfaction which all lead to improved customer retention and a return on investment.

Will I need training?

It’s important that your entire team is trained on CRM. As CRM solutions become more intuitive, many businesses overlook the importance of training. However, training is essential to maximise value of CRM. It plays an important role in achieving high rates of user adoption – in simple terms, if your team do not see the software working and understand how it can benefit them in their day-to-day activities, it will not be used. With CRM you get out what you put in, therefore it requires everyone to be using it effectively.

Where is all this data stored, and is it safe?

Where CRM data is stored depends on the type of placement option you choose. With a ‘traditional’ on-premise CRM deployment, your data will reside in-house on your servers. Therefore, the security of it is in your own control.

The alternative, and increasingly popular method, is a cloud CRM. If you choose cloud the data will be stored in a data centre by your cloud service provider. Generally speaking, cloud data centres are more secure than your own.

Is there a high level of maintenance involved?

Again, this largely depends on the placement method chosen. If you have an on-premise CRM system you will have the option to apply updates and upgrades as they are released. You will also be responsible for the maintenance of the server upon which it is stored. For cloud deployments all updates, upgrades and maintenance is taken care of for you. So, if you have limited in-house IT resources, this could be a good fit.

The Myths….

Aren’t CRM’s Just for Corporate Companies?

No, for some time CRM software has been produced for businesses of all shapes and sizes. When CRM was first introduced it was only viable for businesses with big budgets, however CRM is available to suit a variety of needs and budgets. With the introduction of cloud technologies, CRM is more accessible than ever. The subscription pricing makes CRM affordable for even the smallest of businesses.

The long term benefits of customer relationship building are also not just for corporate companies with hundreds of customers to maintain, by streamlining your customer relationship process you’ll be less likely to loose your customers to competitors, and be able to keep tabs on your marketing efforts.

Isn’t CRM just for the tech savvy?

No, you don’t have to be tech savvy to use CRM. CRM is increasingly intuitive and is designed to make life easy for its users, even those who are a little reluctant about technology. Automation and workflow capabilities mean the laborious administrative tasks are done for you, so CRM is now easier to get to grips with than ever.

Isn’t CRM just about customer data?

CRM is used to record customer data, but it is more than just a repository for data.

It can help you to track communication with customers, measure your marketing efforts and streamline reports.

Doesn’t it take hours to implement?

The implementation time will depend largely on the specification, the number of users and if you require customisation or bespoke development. If you opt for a cloud deployment, implementation can be completed in a matter of hours, therefore your businesses working hours needn’t be dramatically affected in anyway.

The old days of having a disturbed office because of new hardware installations are long gone.

Won’t I need costly IT support?

Support for business software is recommended, software has a habit of going wrong and it is important to have support there when the need arises.

Your customer’s data is the bread and butter of your business, and if this is lost it can be severely damaging to your business, with many often not recovering.

Never take the risk, and always ensure you have the correct support to get you back up and running as soon as possible.

CRM can be a truly cost effective option to add value to customer interactions.

If your businesses broadcast itself as one who has great customer service, then this tool can go a long way in helping your customers recognise that.

By Jade Winters, Marketing Manager at DMC Software