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CRM Systems: Changing the Way We Do Business

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Pen and paper. That’s what we had. Then the digital age dawned. More information could be stored and accessed than ever before. Life became simple, automated.

CRMs have taken us from physical to digital rolodexes. From digital rolodexes to database marketing and contact management system.1 Iterate on that for a decade or so and arrive at the modern CRM.1 Post that are cloud-based and mobile accessible CRMs that enable small and medium sized businesses, like you and I, to keep all our contacts and access them online without the need for a heavy duty IT department, and to automate an entire spectrum of repetitive processes. How else has and are CRMs changing the way we do business?

Everything all in one place.                                  

All client contact information, purchased history, and everything else is served up on one, maybe two, screens instead of in a contact book, and on point-of-sale data base, and in a spreadsheet sheet somewhere on your company’s network. Or was it on another share drive. The power here is that everyone knows where this information is without having to be told more than a few times. Many businesses seem to need a diagram just to know where to find basic information. Not anymore.

Data

With all that information so neatly organized in one place and oh so accessible, a data set is born. Data sets are used to discover hidden facts about entire markets and differentiate your product from competitors. Data is how niches are found. And niches are how successful businesses are built in saturated market places. Making a useful data set is infinitely more feasible with a tool like a CRM or Fleet Management.

Process Automation

Tasks that were once done by administrative assistants, who were paid employees, the most expensive part of owning a business, are replaced by a CRM for two reasons. One, processes that are organized and standardized to a certain level can be done by machines. Switching to and using a CRM usually requires that level of organization and standardization. Two, CRMs provide robust tools bundled together to perform such processes that in the past would had to have been custom built by a software developer or in-house IT department.

Integrates with Other Office Programs

Processes that cannot all be done with the CRM can usually be integrated with relative ease to processes on the CRM. Such as exporting client payment details for the month and then uploading them to QuickBooks. The staff required to perform these processes is less. Small businesses can serve a much larger client base with less overhead.

Mobile Access

Most modern CRMs provide some kind mobile support. Work was once done from the office or home. Then the café revolution awoke. Business owners sprung from every corner to run their empires from ubiquitous coffee shops offering free Wi-Fi. Now most basic business functions and collaboration can be done from a smart phone through vastly improve interfaces and features negating the need for laptops and Wi-Fi entirely.

Customers Don’t Fall Through the Cracks

No longer must contacting every-so-often customers rely on a rudimentary calendar to keep from being eclipsed by a business’s most prolific customers, all contact reminders can be automated with a host of other functionality and, as always, their contact info along with the content of the last conversation immediately available.

Safety

All customer info is behind a secure sign-on with modern security. Gone are the days of some info behind a secure sign-on and other info in a spreadsheet on a UBS drive with no security at all. In that same vein, denying access to an employee or contractor is as easy as suspending their CRM account instead having to remember what systems they have access to and then trying to remember your own passwords to those systems.

Scalability

Standardized infrastructure, like a CRM, can be made big quickly. Before an efficient CRM, bringing on more customers meant bringing on more staff for administrating, building infrastructure, and maintaining infrastructure. With cloud-based CRMs, getting bigger means buying more space on the CRM and maybe a little more administrative staff. Efficient and effective scalability means far more can be done with far less.

Platform

Previously, the small businesses that had really cool custom applications on hand were the ones with a really cool tech guy on staff and he was almost always a veep or c-suite. He only built things when he had time and hope he didn’t quit. Maintaining custom applications is a nightmare because only its maker really knows how it works. Larger, well supported CRMs can act as platforms for an integrated project management, a database for POS systems, or, in Carmine’s case, a database for tracking assets. CRM based systems can be maintained by most tech savvy employees plus seeking outside expertise is possible and easy because, unlike custom applications, a CRM developer is easy to find now a days.

Streamlining Sales and Marketing

CRMs store detailed information like the preferences of how and when customers want to be contacted. The results of all marketing efforts feed right to the sales people via the CRM, dramatically reducing turnaround time.2 The results of all Process Automation are beamed directly to the entire company creating less overhead and less miscommunication, and leading to more deals closed and higher customer satisfaction.

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