These days, business organizations utilize modern and sophisticated means of building and managing long-term customer relationships in a structured approach. One of these methods is the use of customer relationship management (CRM) tools. CRM consists of a wide range of integrated information technology and customer-based software and solutions that support and help manage sales and marketing, customer service, and many other aspects of the business.
Businesses of various sizes and levels, as well as types or nature, may take advantage of CRM tools and software. This article will talk about the various CRM applications, the core-customer related business activities that benefit primarily from CRM, and the various CRM tools and solutions used by many companies in their day-to-day customer interaction.
CRM Tools and Applications
Customer relationship management tools and applications incorporate the three primary customer-focused areas in a business: sales, marketing, and customer service. Using CRM makes it easier and convenient for employees to facilitate customer business transaction and streamline existing sales processes matched with quality customer service.
CRM for Sales or Sales Force Automation
The types of CRM software for sales are designed to streamline and simplify the various activities in sales to help the salespeople acquire more customers in a given amount of time. Sales force automation is the most commonly used CRM application in this department. Other CRM tools used in sales are:
- Contract Management
- Sales Administration
- Customer Preference Management
- Lead Management
- Product Database
These sales tools allow the sales department of a company to facilitate sales forecasts and projections, workflow automation, lead generations, and sales opportunities with ease and efficiency.
CRM for Marketing
The CRM tools and applications used for marketing are useful for the sales team in identifying potential customers and generating quality leads. Basically, these tools also help the marketing team in managing marketing campaigns such as email campaigns, searches, telesales, direct mail, and social media. Furthermore, it also helps in monitoring the success rates of these campaigns through clicks, leads, responses, deals, and revenues. Two examples of CRM marketing tools used early on in the business are marketing automation and Prospect Relationship Management (PRM).
CRM for Customer Service or Customer Support
Customer service CRM tools are primarily designed for gathering and storing customer information in the database, documenting customer inquiries, analyzing customer satisfaction, and building customer service best practices. The CRM tool or application used in demonstrating customer service has always been an integral aspect for call centers and other outsourcing offices. It comprises features such as call routing system, computer telephone integration, and escalation functions. Here are other customer service CRM tools:
- Comprehensive Call Center Solutions
- Instant Messaging
- Web Capture
- Customer Care
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
- Customer Helpdesk
- Partner-Facing Portals
CRM Tools and Applications Classification
The previously mentioned tools and applications may be generally classified into three major types depending on the function in the organization. These three classifications are the following:
a. Operational CRM
This includes the sales and marketing CRM tools and applications utilized by the company’s sales and marketing departments.
b. Collaborative CRM
This covers integrated CRM that is used for direct customer communication but does not involve the sales and marketing people of the company. The customers themselves have access to these tools to transact business with guidance.
c. Analytical CRM
It is used mainly for analysis of customer information for a variety of purposes. Examples would include Forecasting, Business Intelligence Systems, Web-based Document Management, Dashboard Reporting, and Event/Task Management and Propagation.
Types of CRM Software
The various CRM tools and solutions are supported by CRM software systems. These software systems function to streamline customer database based on the various functions in a business organization and use the information efficiently to serve the customers efficiently. CRM software varies in type depending on the nature of the business and the CRM applications used.
The most commonly used CRM software these days is a web-based or online CRM. The following are some common examples of online CRM, which are also platform-based:
- ASP CRM
- Open Source CRM
- Analytical CRM
Other new CRM software commonly used in tracking orders for sales and in telecom industries include:
- Wireless CRM
- Mobile CRM