CRM for SMBs: The Secret to Getting What You Need

Customer relationship management (CRM) is the heart of any business today: large or small, B2B or B2C, product or service, and even governments and charities. No matter how much any business values its employees, customers have to come first. However, CRM software can make your life easier and raise the bottom line by promoting great customer relationships and repeat business through a reputation for top customer service. It used to be something only large enterprises used, but now even the smallest businesses can benefit from good CRM software.

Before deciding which CRM software is right for your business, an assessment of needs is smart. Decide how you want to connect to your customers and then buy the solution that provides that functionality. If possible get a solution that can be scaled to your business needs, generally sold as a basic version plus additional modules.

Ask yourself several questions:

  • How quickly do your customers need a response from you? Is it days, hours or minutes?
  • What kinds of services might they need? These may include technical support, account support, repair and return services, pre- or post-sales help, additional sales, or parts and manuals.
  • Will you hire a remote third-party service, or provide all customer service in-house?
  • Do you need to provide customer service after business hours?

Once you’ve answered those questions, you should look for these features:

  • Communication channels should include email, phone, online chat, instant messaging, a knowledge base, a forum and artificial intelligence help. Most people will opt for either phone or live chat, but an easy-to-use email or messaging system will get plenty of use, as will a well-designed knowledge base and a carefully moderated forum. An artificial intelligence front end on the knowledge base can be invaluable in helping customers find their own solutions quickly.
  • Tracking is essential for CRM. All contacts must be documented, and this should be automatic. Trained employees can make good notes, but they need easy-to-use software with quick connection to the company knowledge base and other resources. Repairs and returns must be tracked and sales should be connected to individual customers so that the data collected will make sense.
  • Access to all features from one place is also critical. Your marketing and technical teams need the ability to find all the data you collect about customers across the entire business relationship lifecycle. Contact center operators or chat specialists need easy access to customer data, product or service data and the company knowledge base from one console.
  • Automation is a big benefit of CRM. Recording and follow-up reminders to sales and service should be automated, as well as the delivery of new information on products customers have purchased and about new products they might like. Service checkup reminder, birthday or holiday messages, and invitations to sales or events should all be at least semi-automated.
  • Integration may be necessary if you have remote workers or service providers, sales force automation software, maintenance department applications, etc.

There are many other features available, such as sophisticated data mining and social marketing, but few companies need them all. Buy what you need in a CRM solution but buy from a company that provides excellent service and can add more as you grow.

And if you’d like help sorting through the options, give us a call. Atlantic-IT.net can help you select the right CRM solution for your business needs, IT environment and budget.