Cloud-Based CRM Systems: Better Customer Service?With cloud-based everything dominating the tech-world landscape these days, it’s reasonable to consider the pros and cons of migrating your CRM systems to the cloud. However, before you start exploring the nuances of cloud-based CRM mobile app options, scalability, or security features, keep in mind the most important question of all: Will cloud-based CRM systems improve your customer service?

If you’re not familiar with cloud-based programs and companies, cloud computing is basically just a metaphor, or different way of saying that a company’s data and programs are stored and accessed through the internet instead of a hard drive system. Businesses are linked into larger systems, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) programs, depending on their size and need.

The Benefits of the CRM Cloud

The cloud, well, let’s just say it’s raining these days. Companies offering cloud based services – even free-cloud based services – are abounding. In the overall cloud computing marketplace, from 2010–2012, revenue has increased from $8.7 billion to $16.7 billion. Clearly, companies are enjoying the advantages that services on the cloud offer, including lower costs (typically, depending on size); improved agility; the ability to scale up or down rapidly; and the flexibility to use the cloud for remote workforces.

However, not all businesses are well-suited to cloud-based CRM solutions, and for some, the cost advantages don’t translate if the organization is at a certain capacity or already has deep investments in IT infrastructure and systems. For example, companies that require more control over their databases may prefer on-premise systems, if they already have the internal resources to support information through private databases. Additionally, companies that require high-levels of security through Service Level Agreements (such as healthcare or banking providers), may need to house all data internally, versus cloud-based CRM systems. And for some companies, they simply prefer to have direct control over the details of their business decisions and specifics of a program; with a cloud-based CRM system, a company is still at the mercy of updates by the hosting company.

CRM and its Applicability to Customer Satisfaction

Customer Relationship Management programs assist in customer support services by streamlining a customer’s data, allowing customer service reps to keep track of information, and better service customers through knowledge of the customer’s history. Cloud-based CRM systems allow companies to use the benefits of the cloud for CRM services – this is especially helpful for companies that must scale up or down quickly, have a remote workforce, and/or rely on CRM social space tools.

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of CRM programs – particularly nimble cloud-based CRM systems – is that it shifts the customer service relationship from being reactive to one that is proactive. Instead of simply interacting with customers at moments when they call to seek a solution or solve an issue, a well-managed CRM program puts the company in control: by having a database of a customer’s information and history, companies can instead reach out to customers early in the process (such as after the sale or service has been initiated) to monitor satisfaction, address any questions, and assist in any concerns before the customer becomes frustrated and is forced to call the company. The agility of the cloud-based CRM solutions augment the ability of companies to use CRM tools and try out new types of CRM programs without making large capital investments; a company can instead use cloud CRM pilot programs to test what customers respond best to.

Don’t Put the CRM Cloud-Based Cart Before the Horse

As we mentioned in the beginning of this article, it’s clear that your company will have numerous questions and considerations before deciding to invest in a cloud-based CRM program. However, it is putting the cart before the horse a bit to ask all of the detailed questions about cloud-based CRM providers if you have not first tackled the question of how a cloud-based CRM program will improve your company’s customer service. It may be deceptively simple to look at the easy-interfaces that many cloud CRMs offer and conclude that you can therefore skimp on training. However, as with any new tool that you introduce to your customer service team, proper training is paramount to successful implementation and increased customer satisfaction.

Studies on CRM software have found that 30 to 40 percent of problems cited with CRM programs were due to the product, but the majority of the complaints were directed toward the internal processes and strategy used in implementing the new programs. Namely, the training was not adequate enough to help companies realize the full benefit of CRM programs.

Fortunately, you can enjoy the benefits that cloud-based CRM programs offer and see increased customer satisfaction rates from your investment. Our answer to the question we first posed? Yes, cloud-based CRM systems can improve customer service with in-depth customer service training behind your shiny new cloud-based CRM system.