What is Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?

Written by Professional Academy Guest Blogger Robert Cordray

Customer relationship management (CRM) is an umbrella concept that describes all of the different types of communications and contact points that a company has with its customers. The term is also used to specifically describe a software solution that helps businesses manage individual client relationships without sacrificing a great deal of time or quality of contact.

These applications and software are becoming increasingly common in modern business strategy, particularly when a significant portion of sales and customer service interactions occur online. Many studies show that investing in CRM applications can yield high return on investment for companies, with some reported cases showing results of up to 500 percent return.

CRM: Taking Customer Service to the Next Level

Essentially, a CRM app is an integrated software utility that is designed to provide powerful features with a user-friendly interface. This means that only minimal employee training is required, since adding or retrieving information from the system doesn't require advanced technical knowledge. People from various departments, like sales, marketing or customer service, all have access to the stored data through an integrated CRM application.

The core benefit of CRM apps for businesses lies in their ability to facilitate communications with hundreds or thousands of different customers on a personal basis. With a few clicks on a screen, users can pull up a client's entire history of interactions with the company as reference for current needs. They can view emails sent to other employees, past purchases and other essential details that may be relevant to current needs.

Why Use Digital Solutions to Manage Client Relations?

A shared digital database is one of the most potent features of a modern CRM application, because it means everyone has access to current and accurate information. This ensures that customers receive seamless interactions with the company and cuts down on miscommunications between team members or departments within the company.

Companies can also free up a significant amount of employee time by streamlining the info gathering process through these software tools. CRM apps are great resources for business leaders and managers who want to incorporate IT automation into their organization. The software settings can be adjusted to automatically send inquiries, responses and marketing messages to customers based on a certain schedule or other pre-set criteria.

Tailored Functionality to Fit Any Organization

Another key element of advanced CRM solutions is their flexible and dynamic design. Companies can adjust a wide variety of settings so that their software works in a way that is most productive for their specific needs. A vast enterprise-level corporation has different pain points and customer interactions than a small ten-man operation, and the software can be tailored to account for these differences.

While some business decision makers hesitate to use CRM due to the potential for data loss or breach of customer privacy, there are actually safe guards that mitigate these risks. Even if a large number of employees have basic access to the database through their personal login, only users with top-level access can make major modifications that could lead to loss of information.

The Future of Customer Relationship Management

No one can predict the future, but current evidence indicates that CRM applications are going to be a part of business best practices in the years ahead. Businesses of all sizes should consider the many benefits offered by these software utilities, as well as the logistics of adopting them in their workplace.

Integrating the software early during a company's growth minimizes the complexity of migrating data to a new system and ensures that all customer interactions are stored from the beginning, which puts the power of information firmly in the hands of those who can put it to good use.

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