CRM software is the ultimate wingman for small business
Small business owners like myself are aware – no, painfully aware – that our clients are central to the success of our business.
As I’ve discussed before, delighting clients is what drives the growth of my business. So it can be difficult to consider trading-in intensely managed, personal relationships for cold, clerical software.
Unfortunately, with the realities of staff turnover and the sheer passing of time, client relationships can start to slip through the cracks. All you may be left with is a proliferation of spreadsheets full of out-of-date contacts.
CRM software, used well, can help you maintain those close and emotional relationships over the long-term; it’s the ultimate wingman for your business.
CRM systems do cost a little to set up but, if used correctly, will have a positive ROI and amplify your business’s capabilities. The key is choosing the right CRM software; selecting ill-fitting CRM software will achieve exactly the opposite effect than the one you’re looking for.
What should you look for in a CRM?
Small businesses need CRM software that’s user-friendly, accessible, flexible and customisable. Here are the key features to look for:
- Compatibility – Your CRM must allow your staff access from all their devices. A tool that forces staff to make notes elsewhere for later input into the CRM will lead to incorrect or incomplete data entry.
- Cloud-based – A cloud-based system is not only key for ensuring accessibility; it also allows you to outsource CRM management. A system that requires in-house maintenance will become more of a burden than a boon to your business with time.
- Integration with other software packages – Any new software systems should be able to integrate with your existing systems, so that you’re improving efficiency business-wide.
- Email system integration to sync emails and contacts – Email integration is particularly important for realising the full potential of CRM software. If CRM software won’t integrate with your email platform, then it’s either time to ditch your antiquated email platform, or the CRM platform is on the verge of becoming out-dated; don’t settle for either.
- Ease of customisation – Straight out-of-the-box, CRM software is unlikely to exactly meet your needs and, if it does, those needs will change over time. Look for a system that gives you a customisable dashboard and templates.
- Workflow automation – Repetition of manual tasks signals that there is potential for improving efficiency. Look for a CRM that allows you to set if-then rules to create renewal reminders, follow-up tasks and notifications for significant clients and events.
- Customer self-service – Empower your clients to register, set up accounts, get quotes and pay bills with CRM customer self-service features. Customer self-service needn’t replace personal interactions, but it allows the customers to take control when it suits them.
Making the selection
Don’t get caught up in CRM demos that get you excited about fancy features that you’ll never need or use. My very unsexy advice for making a wise selection is: do your research and focus on your priorities. Learn about the CRM features that benefit SMEs and consider how they’ll affect your day-to-day customer interactions.
It’s an important decision, and if you need some help, contact Proactive IT Solutions to discuss your CRM options. We’ll assess your particular needs and ensure you get the right CRM for the job. We can also advise you on the best ways to integrate your CRM with your existing software packages, such as accounting and email packages.