10 of the most commonly asked questions about CRM

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is an increasingly popular tool for businesses that are seeking to take more control over the way that they work. There are many questions that people ask when starting to consider CRM for the first time, or when they have outgrown their existing method of customer management and are looking for a replacement. 

Helen Caldicott, a consultant from Marketing Answers & Solutions, has gathered together the most common questions she gets asked about CRM… and provided the answers! 

1.     What is CRM?
Gartner describe CRM as

“A business strategy whose outcomes optimise profitability, revenue and customer satisfaction…CRM technologies should enable greater customer insight, increased customer access, more effective customer interactions, and integration throughout all customer channels and back-office enterprise functions”.

2.     Why are companies interested in CRM?
Companies are interested in CRM because they recognise that the customer is their primary strategic asset and thus seek to better understand the behaviour and needs of that customer and therefore enhance their relationship.
3.     How can CRM software help my organisation?
CRM software by itself cannot help your organisation improve performance. CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy focused on acquiring, developing and retaining the right customers. There is nothing new or ‘special’ about CRM. It is simply the current term for doing good business, well, and practising ‘best practice’ business processes.

4.     What are the business benefits of investing in CRM – or in other words what will CRM do for me?
Actual returns vary from one company to the next, but common benefits we have seen our customers achieve are:

  • Higher customer retention
  • Improved sales productivity
  • Improved efficiency between different departments
  • Shorter sales cycles
  • Increased profitability
  • Lower marketing costs
  • Reduction in “lost” sales leads
  • Increased customer service response times

5.     How much will it cost
As there is not one fixed price for all CRM solutions, unfortunately there is not one fixed answer. However the things that affect how much your CRM will cost largely boil down to, which software you choose, who will install it and how many licences or people will need to be using it, together with how much customisation and training you require.

6.     How can we integrate with legacy systems?
Often companies who are thinking about implementing a new CRM system already have a number of financial and contact management databases or spreadsheets that they are already using. In short, many financial systems will may an associated CRM system that will integrate with that package. Most often, we find that the people who come to us who are looking for a new CRM system, are usually expanding (employing extra staff), or have outgrown their existing system. In these cases, it is most likely that we would recommend taking the information out of the old system and putting it into the new one, most of the time this can be done by the CRM consultancy you are working with.

7.     Will my sales team be able to download our customer database, and leave the company!
Many CRM systems have security profiles that enable businesses to prevent their staff from performing certain tasks. For example, if you were worried that a disgruntled employee might want to delete the company database, deletion rights can be removed. In most CRM systems there is also the option to be able to export data into an excel spreadsheet, again if this was something you wanted to stop, then this part of the system can be turned off for certain users. If this is something you are concerned about, remember to mention it to the company whom you are purchasing your CRM from.

8.     Will my remote/home based workers be able to access the system?
The answer in short is yes, most CRM systems include the option to cater for remote users. However, there are four main ways to do this:

  • Remote web access – this enables your remote worker to go onto the internet and login to your live CRM system from home.
  • Remote Installation – this enables remote workers to have a copy of the software on their laptop, so they can update your CRM database regardless of whether they have internet access. When they do have access to the internet and your server, they can then synchronise their data.
  • Mobile CRM – this enables remote workers to access and update your CRM system, via a PDA or mobile phone.
  • VPN – Virtual Private Network – where users connect to the work server, via the internet from home.

Many CRM systems will come with a remote working option, however you will need to decide which way you would prefer your remote workers to be able to update the CRM system and see which CRM solution provides your chosen method. Even when your chosen method isn’t part of the CRM software price, there are often complementary software solutions that will enable you to do this. 

9.      How long will it take?
Things that affect the amount of time a CRM installation will take include: number of records, amount of configuration, number of users and number of laptops. So if you have very few or no records that need importing, are happy with the fields that come, ‘out of the box’ and have just a couple of users and no laptops – it could take as little as a day. But…!

To reduce the amount of time a CRM installation and project will take, if you have a list of things that you want to be able to do, a list of fields that you want to be filled in and have checked that your existing hardware meets the minimum requirements for the software – this will all help with reducing the amount of time setting up your system.

10. What’s the difference between the current CRM systems available today?
In summary, when you come to decide which CRM software is best suited to your business needs, these are some of the things you will need to be checking:

  • Is the relationship between our company and our clients, B2B or B2C?
  • How do my staff need to be able to access and update the system (i.e. from home, on the road, in the office)
  • What is the main objective of having the system? (e.g. sales lead management, marketing campaigns)
  • Which teams need to be able to use the system; sales, marketing, customer service, operational etc…
  • Does it need to link to other systems?
  • How will our emails link to the CRM system
  • Do we need the phones to link to the CRM

Once you have an agreed internal checklist, you are ready to start looking at the different systems to see which best meet your requirements.

Helen Coldicott – Training Consultant
Marketing Answers & Solutions
email Helen@marketinganswers.co.uk 
Telephone 0844 745 4588