CRM Tools for Every Business Need

By Ryan Ayers
Updated: March 28, 2011

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions are a proven way to manage and increase the effectiveness of your interactions with your customers and prospects. Helping companies to track and strategize potential lead targeting, better anticipate existing customers’ service needs, and coordinate the efforts of separate employees and departments, these systems have become an indispensable tool in the customer service arena.

The Basics

CRM solutions are basically a tool used to integrate customer information and to allow businesses to set specific parameters for interaction with each customer. An effective contact center utilizes the basic functions of a CRM system in each interaction to define and record the particulars of a given customer issue.

These systems allow a business to retain pertinent information regarding a customer’s service timelines, product specifications, past requests, and contact histories and eliminate the need to re-capture this information with each new contact. This enables a streamlined process for each interaction, ultimately lowering handling times and increasing customer satisfaction.

Tools for Every Business Need

CRM solutions can vary depending on the specific provider, but many aspects are uniform across the board.

Most CRM solutions will have components that are able to:

  • Retain customer particulars – retain customer specifics such as product specifications, part records, billing and contact information.
  • Track/record history – keep a record of past interactions with specific customers, track service issues for a given customer.
  • Generate reports – run reports of sets of customers based on specific criteria (e.g., qualified leads, potential market targets, customers in need of equipment upgrades).
  • Integrate with contact centers – integrate seamlessly with your contact center systems to provide a unified solution to data capture.

These tools allow businesses to function in the manner that consumers have become accustomed to while allowing businesses to better serve customers by anticipating and addressing their needs more efficiently.

Add-on Applications

As with most technology products today, there are many applications that provide additional functionality and are interoperable with existing popular CRM solutions. Many of these applications are either inexpensive or free, while some that offer more comprehensive feature sets are significantly more expensive.

Most of these add-on applications will function with a larger mainstream CRM solution such as Microsoft Dynamics. Many of these increase functionality or increase the specialization in existing CRM solutions. Add-on applications generally provide some form of increased specificity that will function within the parameters of your business’ normal operations.

Typical add-on functions are:

  • Industry specific customizations
  • Customized menus
  • Mail merges
  • Language specific applications
  • Specialized/customized contact center functionality
  • Group/integrated calendars

Once your business has a CRM system in place, there are endless available ways to customize and adjust it so that it fits the way that your business operates. The goal of an effective CRM solution should be that it integrates into the operational processes of your company in a way that can enhance your customer interactions. Whether paid, or open source, there are many add-on options available that address almost every business structure and type.
 

Featured Research
  • 2017 CRM Software Cost Guide

    Would you believe that 89% of businesses expect to compete primarily on customer service in the upcoming years? With that in mind, it’s no surprise that CRM software is becoming such an integral part of business operations. But not all solutions are created equally, especially when it comes to the value they deliver to your business. more

  • Top 10 Trends in CRM for 2017

    There’s some big things happening with CRM software that you should to be aware of. Technological advancements and changes to business processes have led to developments and new features that are making CRM more valuable than ever. Things like mobile capabilities and greater integration with other software are at the front of this progress. more

  • SMB CRM Providers Comparison Guide

    A good SMB CRM system can be an incredibly valuable asset for your business. As more businesses recognize this value, the amount of SMB CRM vendors is expanding quickly. Navigating the pricing plans, features, and service terms of all these can be a decision-making nightmare. more

  • CRM and Contact Center Integration

    One of the best ways to improve your customer service is to integrate your CRM and contact center software. Benefits of doing this include:Improved customer satisfaction through more personalized contacts, Better conversions on lead, and Increased employee productivity. more

  • CRM Providers Comparison Guide

    As more businesses recognize this value, the amount of CRM vendors is expanding quickly. There are well over 100 available in 2017. Navigating the pricing plans, features, and service terms of all these can be a decision-making nightmare. more