Invest in a CRM systemThe business you started a while ago has been strolling along, and after lots of hard work, you are starting to see some real traction. Revenues are building and your customer list is progressing as well. However, that is the problem, as your business continues to grow it is starting to become noticeably tougher to deliver, consistently, good customer service.

If you are seeing some of the signs below then it is maybe time to start thinking about a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to help keep your customer communications, transactions and relationships all organised and flowing so your business can continue to grow. Issues include:

  • when you hit a critical mass in your business workload
  • when you are not maintaining consistent customer satisfaction
  • when they are customer oversights i.e. not getting back to customers

When you start noticing these signs, at what point in your business should you start thinking that CRM software should be adopted? This is not a straight forward question, and there is not one answer for everyone.

When manual business processes become overwhelming or when you reach a threshold of customer accounts where managing them, doing the follow-up calls, responding to enquiries and keeping your sales churning becomes more onerous than in the past, then you’ll likely be thinking that something’s got to change.

So where do you start to invest in a CRM system?

First talk to everyone your business touches. Talk to your customers to find out what they need from you in maintaining great customer relationships with your company. Ask them if they have other vendors who use CRM systems that your customers find are working well. Maybe some of your customers are already using CRM too and you can learn from their experiences.

Talk to your staff. What tools would help them do their jobs better? What problems in the business would they like to see fixed? Ask them for their help, listen to them and take lots of notes. Take their concerns with you when you speak to vendors.

So how do you choose a software vendor?

Talk to resellers/business partners. Request demos of the products, read all you can online and turn yourself into an educated buyer. You wouldn’t buy a new car without doing deep research on customer reviews, fuel mileage, reliability and resale values, so don’t look at CRM systems blindly.

Ask the software company lots of questions. Ask about scaling and capacity issues with the CRM applications as your business continues to grow. Ask about how it will work with the other applications you are running. Will the CRM system integrate easily with your accounting software or ERP system? Think about the future – mobility/cloud. What will you want it to be able to do in two years as your company grows? Will you easily be able to add new features or software modules?

When you pick the best CRM products for detailed demonstrations, ask them to use some of your customer data and see how it all is displayed and organised and how it will work.

Include some of your key employees in the discussions. Are there products that they think are easier to use? What do they think are the most important features? It is very important to do this as they will be the main influencers in the company to get people using the system

A key to remember, even though it can be a large investment in IT, the positives will likely far outweigh the negatives as you adopt CRM automation and watch your business become more efficient, more aggressive and more focused on its goals of growing your business and better serving your customers.

To find out more, download our essential guide to CRM.

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