Customer Relationship Management tools

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a tool for collecting and managing the information and interactions your business has with your customers, sales leads, suppliers or other businesses.

It can help you with:

  • tracking the success of your marketing activities
  • identifying and following up on prospective customers
  • maintaining relationships with loyal customers
  • grouping your customers types to develop personalised communications
  • seeing which customers have signed up to your marketing lists
  • understanding which customers have responded to your offer or promotion.

Benefits of a CRM

Customer relationship management may mean keeping track of your customers to provide personalised service. For example, you may choose to send your customer a special offer on their birthday.

Benefits of a CRM can include your ability to:

  • develop personalised and targeted marketing activities that have a better chance of creating a sale
  • identify the most best time or most effective marketing activity that your customers respond to
  • collect and store customer feedback to help you improve and innovate
  • track customer behaviour, interactions and purchases of your products or services
  • store and follow up on customer leads to help you find new customers.

What info do I collect in my CRM?

The information you collect in your CRM will depend on the individual needs of your business, and the marketing activities that you undertake. The data you decide to collect can help you build a complete customer profile and may be useful when evaluating the success of direct marketing activities, such as e-newsletters.

Examples of info you may include in a CRM;

  • Customer details such as name, address, contact details, date of birth and preferred contact method.
  • Customer purchase information including when a customer purchased from you, what they bought, the time and value of the purchase.
  • Engagement information on if, when and how your customer responded to your marketing campaigns or promotions.
  • Feedback information including any feedback on your service, or if a customer made any complaints or returned their products.

Remember that any information you store on your customers must abide by privacy and IT security regulations.

How do I choose a CRM?

There are many different providers of CRM tools available to choose from. Depending on the type and size of your business, you may decide to use a spreadsheet or record keeping system to log customer interactions.

Alternatively, you may decide to buy dedicated CRM software to help you manage your customer relationships. This includes CRMs available and stored in the cloud, or software program installed locally on your computer.

Things to consider when choosing a CRM

  • the size of your customer base - if you have many customers you will need more features from your CRM
  • the cost of the CRM per month
  • the number of people that will be using the system
  • whether you want a cloud-based or a local system installed CRM
  • your data storage requirements
  • the integration with your existing email system
  • how and where you or your employees will access your CRM
  • the types of data you wish to collect
  • whether training and ongoing support is provided for you and your employees
  • the level of security the CRM offers against malware and IT security breaches.

Some CRMs offer a trial period before you buy the full system. It can be useful for your business to trial different CRMs before you decide on the best option to suit your needs. There are pros and cons to each type of CRM, so make sure you do your research or speak to a business adviser on how a CRM might be useful in supporting your business activities.

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