Here’s what you’re going to learn in this article
- What is a CRM system?
- What can a CRM system track?
- How does a CRM system collect data?
- Why is a CRM system good for business?
- What are the best CRM systems available?
So let’s get started…
Are you starting to see growth with your business?
Are you getting more and more eyes on what you have to offer, and meeting more people who could or do turn into clients?
Despite your accomplishments, you may still be neglecting a crucial aspect of any successful business management strategy. In fact, you may be passing by great opportunities without even realizing it.
If every visitor to your website – or potential but ultimately lost client you meet – leaves no trace on your records, you are missing out on countless chances to learn from these people and improve your offer. And if even your successful deals aren’t categorized for the data they give you, you are unconsciously threatening the health of your relationships with your clients and making sure that they won’t last long term.
Thankfully, the technology to help you save customer data and make the most of it is out there: it’s time to discover CRM systems.
What is a CRM system?
A CRM (customer relationship management) system is a computerized log of all your updated customer contact details, as well as a way to track your interactions with clients and manage client accounts. Rather than keeping all this information in your head or writing it down on notepads and post-its, you can use a CRM to keep it all in one, organized place.
A CRM system can function as an automation tool, performing certain tasks on its own to save you and your team precious time and reach your customers with more immediacy.
The features offered by CRM systems fall in one of three categories: operational, analytical, or collaborative.
An operational CRM system is mostly a technical tool to make the customer experience always better by streamlining tasks.
An analytical CRM system focuses on data analysis to help you strategize your offer and marketing.
Finally, a collaborative CRM system helps you and your team work together across departments, making the customer experience flow more easily.
While most CRM systems will offer features for each of those categories, some lean more towards one kind of support.
What can a CRM system track?
A CRM system can help you across the board, not only with basic client information but also with prospective customers and more detailed data. Here’s a list of what kind of information it can collect, save and organize for you:
It’s too easy to forget when a client has changed address or phone number, which can lead to frustrating missed opportunities. A CRM system will keep all their information updated, so that you can forget about double-checking for changes (or typos)!
The best way to predict future client behavior is to look at their past behavior. If remembering each sale is easy when you’re just starting your business, you will eventually (hopefully!) reach a stage where you’ll have too many transactions to remember. Keeping track of what a client has previously bought from you and how much they spent can help you understand what they may be interested in the future and what their budget may be.
Some of your products or services may be aimed at a specific audience, or you may not yet know what your audience is! By tracking demographic information, you can learn who are your most faithful customers and who to target with your advertising efforts, as well as how to best adapt your product for maximum results.
Engagement with customers is important for any kind of business and is akin to an art form – too little or too much of it can make you lose a client! From emails to phone calls, social media messaging and in-person or Zoom meetings, it can be difficult to track your interactions with your customers. A CRM will gather all your exchanges in one place, so you can see at a glance how communicative you’ve been with your clients, and whether you need to pick up the phone or give them some breathing room.
No one likes receiving the same promotional email twice! Keep notes on who has been sent your ads and who hasn’t to avoid spamming your customers and to make sure people are updated on what you have to offer.
Customer support data
Make your relationship with your clients that much deeper by recalling the difficulties they may have faced with your product, and gather useful data to identify patterns in customer (dis)satisfaction. If you learn that a question or concern is recurrent, you can update your FAQ section to make the customer experience that much smoother.
Next to all this data, you can write your own memos and have them saved for future reference.
How does a CRM system collect data?
Depending on the system you’re using, the precious data you’ll need for it to function will be collected differently – and you must consider this seriously before making your choice. Some common methods of data collection include:
Manual data entry
Inputting data manually remains the most basic (and tedious) method of data collection. It has the advantage of requiring you (or your team members entering the data) to actually see and engage with the information, which, let’s be honest, can help you be more involved.
If you already have customer data stored in another system, such as spreadsheets or other databases, many CRM systems allow you to import it directly from there, which is time-effective.
Since many CRM systems offer integrations with other softwares and platforms, such as Gmail, Google Calendar or Twitter, you can directly pull in data from these sources and keep it up to date thanks to a constant connection between both.
Collecting publicly available data from websites, social media and other digital platforms is now very easy thanks to web scraping technologies. Some CRM systems can thus gather valuable data about customer interactions, purchase history and other behavioral information that can be used to improve your strategy.
Thanks to APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), some CRM systems can be integrated with other systems and applications that you use, so as to automate the data collection process from these places.
Manual or automated forms
Another way of collecting information from your customers is to simply ask them some questions! Many CRM systems allow you to embed forms on your business’s website or social media pages for customers to fill out, with their answers going straight to your CRM system.
Remember that not all CRM systems offer the same methods of data collection. Pick the system that will best fit your needs!
Why is a CRM system good for business?
Businesses can reap particular benefits from using a CRM system. Beyond being a simple organizational tool, a CRM system can help you work more strategically and effectively by improving your performance in certain areas.
By gathering information about your customers, their buying habits and patterns and their engagement with you and your offer, a CRM system allows you to know your clientele better – and knowledge is power!
By presenting customer behavior and gathering your marketing data all in one place, a CRM system lets you analyze your promotional strategy and its results (or lack thereof). You can experiment with different marketing practices and see which ones work best. You can also send your advertising to various platforms or directly to customers or prospective clients directly from your CMS.
Finessing your offer
The data that your CRM system collects lets you observe the purchase patterns of your clients and the behaviors of your prospects, so you can see how receptive people are to your product or service. Through experimentation and data analysis, you can figure out how to best adapt your offer to make it ever more appealing to customers.
By virtue of being a one-stop for all your customer data needs, a CRM system can function as an automation tool that performs certain tasks for you on a big scale. Gone are the days of sending promotional material or thank you messages to clients one by one! Your CRM system can save you precious time to focus instead on making your product better and your sales skyrocket.
It’s in the name, but we’ll reiterate. A CRM system helps you keep your relationship to your customers alive and fruitful by pointing you in the right direction. Thanks to its data collection and management, you have a better chance of making these relationships last long term, with more sales on the horizon.
What are the best CRM systems available?
Choosing a CRM system for your business will depend on your needs as well as the size of your operation. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the various features that any system offers before purchasing it, so that you can make sure you’re not paying for services you don’t need or for not enough help.
Here’s a selection of the most popular systems available as of 2023 and what features distinguish them.
Salesforce: One of the most widely used CRM systems, Salesforce is considered by many to be the industry standard. Fully cloud-based and therefore available everywhere, it offers a wide range of features including a mobile version, as well as an integrated AI system offering recommendations about what to do next with your clients and bots to answer your customers’ FAQs. It is highly customizable and scalable to adapt to any business size, and offers various payment plans.
HubSpot CRM: This free, all-in-one CRM system is perfectly suited to small businesses. Despite being free, it still includes many of the features found in paid CRM systems, such as contact management, lead management and automation. It also integrates with other HubSpot tools such as the marketing and sales software.
Zoho CRM: Another popular option, Zoho CRM offers a wide range of features at an affordable price. It can automate many tasks regarding sales or marketing, and is available as a mobile app. It can be integrated with other Zoho apps.
Pipedrive: Pipedrive is a sales-focused CRM system with a simple and intuitive user interface, making it a good fit for small businesses.
Freshsales: Specifically designed for small sales teams, Freshsales has a wide range of features oriented, as the name indicates, towards sales, such as lead capture, email integration and contact management.
A CRM system may be the tool that will take your business to the next level in 2023. By helping you manage your existing and prospective clients as well as your marketing campaigns and even your offer itself, it could bring you new momentum to keep growing.