What are the benefits of a hosted solution?
A hosted solution can offer the following benefits:
What are the disadvantages to a hosted CRM product?
The potential downsides to a hosted solution aren't to be ignored. For the benefits of rapid deployment and cost savings, business must sacrifice an extra layer of granular control and customization of the product. Additionally, a hosted solution requires a third party to maintain databases of company and customer information, which can create privacy concerns.
What features are essential?
Think carefully about what kind of CRM product you're looking for — are you managing sales lists, making a certain number of calls per day and evaluating your sales agents on their ability to close a sale? If so, you'll need strong outgoing-call features, such as predictive dialing and the potential to monitor your marketing lists.
Many vendors focus exclusively on inbound calling and offer meager outgoing-call features, if any at all. This serves the needs of organizations that only need the capability to provide customer service to inbound callers and are not engaged in telemarketing. If you're helping clients with their billing accounts or providing technical support, you'll need inbound-call features such as IVR (Integrated Voice Response), intelligent call routing and the ability to monitor how effective your agents are at serving customer needs.
While there's no one-size-fits-all checklist, you can start by reading this list of the top 10 hosted CRM features .
How does my company evaluate vendors?
In addition to reviewing the costs and features lists, you'll want to think about your relationship with the vendor. How well are they regarded, and how satisfied are their other customers? If you can learn the names of other companies using the solution, try calling their customer-support line and see how easily you get routed through the system. Then, talk to the agents about their experience. Although the purchase of a hosted solution gets made through management, it's the agents who have the day-to-day hands-on experience and know whether the software is helping them out or making their jobs more challenging.
Other factors to keep in mind include the technical support and training provided, the license or contract requirements, and privacy issues. If you're concerned about any of these, ask the provider about it before you sign a contract.
What else does my business need to think about?
Keep in mind that CRM is more than just a software solution — it's a commitment toward serving your customers efficiently and effectively. If you rely solely on the functions in your solution, you might find yourself disappointed. Focus instead on how to use those features to their maximum benefit for your customers — that's the way to satisfy your customer needs, make the next sale and improve the ROI of your CRM solution.
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