Hidden Costs when Purchasing a CRM Solution

By Kevin Stewart
Updated: February 23, 2011

CRM systems can provide cost effective tools to manage your customer information, but there are some potential costs to consider when evaluating the total cost of these systems.

Costs of Installation, Configuration, and Training

Getting started with a new CRM solution can be challenging for a small to medium sized business. Most CRM solutions are built around web-based and cloud computing models. This eliminates the need to install software, but it does not reduce the complexity of these systems. Even a web or cloud system may require significant initial training. Some of the larger vendors also require a certain amount of database programming and other professional services tasks. The cost for this type of configuration work can be very high.

Migrating Data

If the goal is to bring old data into a new format, data migration is needed. But this can be a difficult task, especially when the migration is from a legacy software CRM system. Converting the data requires deciding on the importance of particular data and mapping it correctly. In some cases it costs more to do data migration than the product or license agreement.

Integration with other systems

CRM stands for customer relationship management, but to make a CRM system actually manage the customer relationship, integration with other systems is required. For example, managing email communication goes beyond traditional CRM. Setting up and running email programs using CRM is not a standard feature. It is usually an add-on capability. This requires system integration work that will usually mean increased cost.

Customer satisfaction and surveys are another area for integration with CRM. Analyzing and taking action on customer experience data is not a standard part of CRM, and it will require additional expenditures.

Phone System Integration Cost

Current telephone systems provide advantages that should be integrated with CRM. Screen-pop capability, Interactive Voice Response, and other features of phone systems depend on a solid CRM platform. Before pricing CRM, potential buyers need to scope out the cost of a phone system that provides the right feature set for the business. In some cases custom coding and configuration can add to initial costs for implementation and integration.

CRM systems provide a focal point for business to customer communication. But they can also do much more than that, depending on the needs and goals of your organization. Just be sure to account for all of the costs involved before making your purchase decision.

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