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So you want a simple CRM system? Are you sure?

So you want a simple CRM system

What is a simple crm?

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is not just about technology so when we are asked to suggest a “simple crm” it throws up a number of challenges. Whilst it is often used as a term to refer to a solution it should be primarily looked upon as a concept. First we will define what we mean by “CRM”:

What is “CRM”?

As a concept

Many businesses we speak to are looking for a CRM system to fix problems within their organisation and it is very rare that their problems can be solved by technology alone. Technology is only a facilitator, just because you are spending an amount of money on a CRM doesn’t mean that your failure to follow-up on a sales lead will improve: it could mean that you’ll just be failing to follow-up on a sales lead whilst paying for a CRM! Before we look to technology to help us with our challenges we must first look at what we do before the technology. Consider this:

How do you currently manage your customer relationships? Also, consider how you manage the other relationships within your organisation, including your suppliers, partners or distributors:

  • How do you communicate with them? Email and phone are common, how about SMS or fax? Social media?
  • How often do you communicate? Does it need to be regularly or at particular times? Does it need to be triggered by another event?
  • Do you communicate in bulk? Do you need to document and measure your responses?

This is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s a great place to start and help you understand what the term “Relationship Management” (ignore the customer for now, this applies to everyone you deal with at your organisation) actually means.

As a technology

CRM really came to the fore in the 80’s with the advent of database marketing. It wasn’t, as the name suggests, designed to manage the relationships of customers – it was designed to allow businesses to collate, segment and manipulate data about their customers and prospects in order to better target their sales and marketing activities. Some of the most complete and effective databases in modern times are the supermarket “loyalty card / point collecting schemes”, so when you get those “special offers” it isn’t because they’re reading your mind and it shouldn’t be because you are reading your customers mind either.

But be careful, it can be downright scary!

So a CRM solution is fantastic for profiling your customers but it can also assist in customer acquisition and maintaining the type of relationship that is beneficial to your customer and profitable to you. This comes with a caveat – technology won’t help you understand what you need to measure – it can help you understand what you *have* measured, but it isn’t a cure-all and you should have realistic expectations of what can be achieved.

Our next instalment will talk about what features and functionality you want from your CRM.

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