CRM stands for customer relations management. A CRM software product is a piece of computer software specifically designed to aid businesses in dealing with their customers. This software will streamline the processes of sales, marketing, technical support and other essential business tasks. A CRM software product will often feature a ‘software as a service’ model, which allows users to only purchase the portions they require. These software packages have faced a tough battle as businesses struggle to adopt and implement them.
The idea behind a CRM software product is unification. These software packages offer a single platform with recognizable interfaces, commands and menus for all aspects of customer relations. This allows workers to move from one area of the program to another with minimal training. In addition, the information stored in the system is available across the platform, allowing departments to access information gathered in other areas.
A CRM software product focuses on three phases of interest; acquire, enhance and retain. In the acquire phase, the software is used as a selling and marketing tool. These software packages allow business to create a multi-channel approach to advertising and sales while maintaining a single brand identity. This phase also includes direct marketing approaches over the telephone or email as well as follow-up connections.
The enhance phase of a CRM software product is the primary phase relating factors outside the business. This phase governs point-of-sale information along with Internet and telephone sales. This phase also contains customer service for after the sale and technical support.
The last phase, retain, relates to non-sales connections to customers after a sale. This phase is concerned with setting up customer loyalty programs and product use questionnaires. This phase also works with existing sales information to find likely candidates for directed marketing strategies.
In many cases, a CRM software product is modular. A company only needs to purchase the portions that interests it. For instance, if the company doesn’t need any of the acquire software modules, it doesn’t need to buy them. In addition to their modular nature, many of these software packages are available through a ‘software as a service’ platform. This allows companies to access very specific software through a web interface and pay via a monthly subscription.
The modular nature of a CRM software product is also a weakness. Individual areas of a company may use different packages, removing the interconnectedness advantage. In addition, when a required module isn’t present, instead of getting the software, workers will often fall back on older packages with which they are more familiar. This begins to decentralize data and leads to a low adoption rate among workers.