Are you wondering what is CRM technology? CRM stands for customer relationship management, a task greatly enhanced by the use of specially designed software programs or technology applications.
Understanding What Is CRM Technology
While a software application can't completely replace the significance of effective face to face customer service practices, the importance of customer relationship management (CRM) technology is widely accepted in the modern business world. CRM software is designed to allow companies to facilitate effective marketing, sales and data management efforts.
The basic building block of a CRM technology application is a customer database. CRM databases allow companies to store key information about their customers and prospects. Some CRM applications are very basic, while others are complex and sophisticated. A basic system might contain nothing more than contact information for customers and prospects. While having this type of information is certainly useful, it doesn't allow for sophisticated marketing or customer loyalty programs.
Instead of keeping a database that is nothing more than a targeted mailing list, many companies opt to utilize a sophisticated CRM database and report writing system to store and access a great deal of information about customers and prospects. CRM systems can be set up to track as much - or as little - information about a company's client base and prospect lists as desired, presuming the desired information is available.
Information typically stored by CRM applications includes:
- Email address
- Telephone number
- Fax number
- Instant messenger (IM) address
- Date of birth
- Items purchased
- Purchase date
- Inquiry history
- Contact history
- Invoice history
- Payment history
- E-newsletter subscription preferences
- Marketing messages sent
- Events attended
- Additional data as allowed by particular system
Benefits of CRM Software Systems
The power of a CRM software application does not lie with storing information. Key information has to be in the database for the system to be useful, but it's what you can pull from the system, and what you do with the information you access, that really makes a difference. Having a CRM technology application allows companies to manage even the largest customer and prospect databases in an efficient and effective manner.
When you have a comprehensive customer database with key information, you are able to leverage that information for marketing purposes. For example, with a quality CRM system, you can pull a report that shows contact information for every person who inquired about a particular product within a certain time frame but did not purchase. This list can be used to make follow up sales calls and to gather information about unfavorable purchase decisions.
A good CRM system will allow you to access a great deal of information about your customers quickly and efficiently. Rather than digging through paper files or seemingly endless spreadsheets to find out the last time a certain customer made a purchase or to identify who inquired about a particular product last, CRM technology allows you to access the information you need with just the touch of a few keyboard buttons.
Additionally, CRM technology can help build positive customer relationships by preventing customers from having to explain themselves to multiple company employees if they have to call back several times for the same situation. If your system has a way to enter details about customer conversations, employees can get up to speed very quickly, making it easier to build positive relationships with customers even when dealing with complaints and problems.
Choosing a CRM Technology Application
Now that you know what is CRM technology, it is easy to see how this type of software application can be beneficial. However, choosing a CRM technology system is a big decision that should not be made lightly. Shop around before purchasing a system and make sure that you are aware of how the database is structured and what kind of report writing capabilities are included.
There are a number of off-the-shelf CRM software applications on the market. Be sure to choose an application that is appropriate for the size and type of company that you are responsible for running. A few programs that you may want to review to see if they are appropriate for your business include: