CRM or Customer Relationship Management seems to be the buzz technology of today, but why is there so much attention given to this relative “New kid on the block”, after all we have had contact management systems around for many years?
The purpose of this article is to outline what an effective CRM solution can do for your business – not simply a list of features you should look for, but what benefits those features will deliver.
So before we go and explore what makes up an effective CRM solution, it may be beneficial to take a step backwards and appreciate the differences between CRM and Contact Management solutions.
A Contact Management System is an integrated office solution that allows organisations and individuals to record relationships and interactions with customers and suppliers. (Wikipedia)
Contact management could also be described as an electronic “rolodex” allowing people to share contact information, record when someone last called or is to be contacted again and provide basic email functionality.
Whilst Contact Management may seem to be all that’s required to manage the day-to-day customer facing activities of a business, it is only part of a much more complicated relationship between customers, prospects, suppliers and competitors.
Companies such as ACT and Goldmine were once the leaders in contact management systems but as the demands to track other activities within the business grew they soon became overtaken by dedicated CRM solutions.
Even now, many companies today are still using spread sheets as their only form of contact management. Whilst better than paper, spread sheets are extremely limited to do this task as the information contained within them is difficult to share and is quickly out of date.
A CRM solution delivers substantially more functionality than any Contact Management system and is more “business centric” – that is, it becomes an integral part of the overall running of the business and soon develops into the structure on which the business is managed.
To help you compare functionality, figure 1 provides some comparisons between the two types of solutions.
So it is clear that CRM extends basic contact management functionality into a more comprehensive record of the interactions between people, organisations, activities and opportunities. This helps deliver a more holistic view of the business, covering all aspects of the company from lead through invoicing to customer support.
ProAptivity specialise in the deployment of CRM solutions into small and medium size businesses. They are the Northern Ireland solutions partner for Maximizer CRM which offers both on-premise and on demand solutions with full Mobile CRM capabilities. For more information contact 028 90735630