Customer Relations Management, or CRM, is more of a business strategy rather than a technology, although it is a software program that offer businesses better solutions in acquiring and maintaining relationships with customers. Companies who want to be successful are dedicated to finding ways to keep their most important asset, their customers, satisfied. That is why many businesses are turning to CRM technology to put their CRM strategies to work for them.
One exciting feature in CRM systems is the emergence of open source CRM applications that are more advanced than ever. They actually allow the customer to integrate the multiple business systems in support of the company's business strategy rather than the company doing the integrating. Basically, the customer is doing the work that the business needs to find out what it is that satisfies their customer. These open source applications tend to be less expensive and support many different proprietary solutions. Yet at the same time these systems are presenting businesses with security, scalability, and many features that can be acquired by a business of any size because of their affordable price.
There are many common features in a CRM system that a company will find very useful in their sales management and their overall relations with their current and prospective customers. These features are:
* Management of sales leads and actual sales
* Marketing campaign management
* Help desk for customer inquiries
* Business process management to help a business design business practices to appeal to the customer.
* Collaborative project management, which allows those collaborating on a project to remain on the same page and integrate their ideas.
* Reporting and dashboards to acquire reports on those things that can make the business grow even larger.
* Enterprise content management
* Website authoring, which is important with the internet being responsible for a lot of the revenue now acquired by businesses.
When it comes to security, it is important for these systems to be secure so that unauthorized people cannot access very important customer information. There are security features put in place to ensure that unauthorized activity does not occur within the system or the information of customers is compromised in any way.
* Advanced encryption and authentication to prevent hacking and access by unauthorized people.
* Administration and logging for those who should only be allowed to access certain features and to keep unauthorized personnel out of certain files.
Then of course there is the communication factor of CRM. Customer relations cannot be successful without the use of the telephone. That is why most CRM systems employ telephone and mobile connectivity such as:
* IM integration
* VoIP integration
* Voice recognition features
* Web services
CRM systems are also supported by platforms such as Linux and Windows since businesses use various platforms for their computer systems in order to conduct business. These programs also run on a number of browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Mac's Safari. They are rather flexible in what types of computers they are used on.
There are other features that businesses like to have included in their CRM systems because there may be a particular function they need that is not included in the default package. In this case, the company may pay a CRM software company to specially make a software program that integrates with certain business requirements such as seeing what the probability is that a customer will leave the company based on past interactions. This is a feature some companies use to know which customers to focus on. So as you can see, the possibilities of CRM are quite phenomenal.
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