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What is Customer Relationship Management Software?

       Business Management


Date Published: June 2006

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Customer Relationship Management software is often referred to as CRM software, and it is really essential for any small business as part of their overall Business Management software.

The Evolution of CRM
Customer Relationship Management (which we will refer to as CRM from now) software has been a result of the evolution of Contact Management Software. Contact Management Software was responsible for storing the names and addresses etc. of all a businesses contacts. With this information already in a database it made sense to add additional related information for each contact - and with this additional information at a businesses fingertips the business could project a much more personal and friendly approach to their customers, even if they had many thousands and did not know them individually.

Building relationships
Excellent customer service is about being aware of customer needs and reacting to them effectively. CRM helps you to understand, anticipate and respond to your customers needs in a consistent way, right across your business.

Practising CRM requires an efficient and integrated internal business system. Many businesses benefit from the organisational discipline CRM imposes, as well as from the technology itself.

So the software enables a business to build a better personal relationship with their customers.

How exactly does it do that?! There are two main elements that are the basis of a good relationship between a business and a customer. Firstly a business should make a customer feel like they are a special customer - if not the ONLY customer! Secondly a business should ensure that they do what they say they will, and do it when they say they will.

This is of course easier said than done, and there can be any number of reasons why you cannot fulfil a promise to deliver at a certain time. This doesn make it a bad business. What DOES make it a bad business if they failed to deliver simply because they FORGET!!

This doesn make a customer feel special. This is where Customer Relationship Management software comes in. CRM software ensures that you have all the necessary details relating to a customer at your fingertips, such as:
  • Telephone conversations between you and you customer
  • Emails sent and received between you and you customer
  • Letters sent between you and you customer
  • Pertinent notes
  • Jobs that need to be completed for a customer
Reminders
A good CRM package should include Reminder facilities which will automatically alert you to tasks that are due to have been completed - and will keep on at you until they have been completed.

There may appear to be nothing worse than a computer that nags you, but it will ensure that you maintain an ongoing relationship with you customer!

CRM software should provide all of the facilities necessary to building up a picture of all past contact with any customer, as well as future contact and tasks that need to be completed. Ultimately it should enable you to build stronger, longer lasting relationships with all your customers. This in turn results in a healthier stronger business.

Philosophy
As a business, you should remember that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a business philosophy; understanding your customers needs enables you to build better relationships and increase sales.

Practising CRM helps you to not only get new customers, but also to stay close to existing customers. A solid customer relations strategy must to come first, but can be effectively built, supported and maintained by technology.

CRM software is therefore central to your business operations and should be ignored at your peril!!


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