Since business and trade have moved to the internet, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find and retain customers and compete with the increasing numbers of service providers. There are so many options for a potential consumer to choose from that companies have to exert considerable efforts to retain their existing clientele.
Effective customer relationship management has become virtually indispensable in our day and age. On the other hand, the very same advances in information technology have made it easier to reach out to the potential and actual customers and learn what they look for and how they feel about our products and services.
In this article, we shall discuss the significance of effective CRM practices for successful business operations, particularly in the IT sector. We shall also explain how to identify good CRM software and give several examples of the most effective and successful CRM software providers to date. But first, what is CRM?
What we want is to build our client base, retain our customers and boost our sales. To be able to do that, we have to know what customers want, whether they are satisfied with our products, and what we could do to adjust our services to the ever-changing needs of the market. And this is what customer relationship management attempts to do.
In other words, CRM involves using multiple strategies, techniques, tools, and information technology to collect and analyze data about current and potential clients to assess their needs and ensure their satisfaction and retention. There are three groups of clients, namely our current and potential ones, and those we have had in the past. All three groups are valuable, each in its own way, and all three require different strategies of data collection and analysis.
We should particularly stress here that we are not talking about simply discovering what they need so that we may continue to make money, even though many companies conduct CRM with such attitudes to their clients. Ideally, we would feel genuinely concerned with our client's needs and expectations. It is they, after all, who consume the products and services we provide.
Thus, CRM can be more than just a set of strategies for generating sales growth. It can also be a philosophy of management that concentrates on establishing caring and mutually beneficial relationships with our clients.
The following benefits of CRM have been reported by numerous companies that use CRM software or employ customer relationship management technologies:
● Simplified and more intelligible reports
● Increased scalability
● Greater work task transparency
● Accelerated sales growth
● More productive team performance
● Enhanced collaboration across departments
● More adequate communication with customers
● More intelligent and constructive audience targeting
CRM software performs invaluable functions for IT companies, in particular:
1. It stores data on leads and other significant social media activities and integrates them for the purpose of discovering more lucrative vectors of future business development. IT CRM also makes it easier to reach clients, execute tasks on time and simplify the contract and regular payment transactions.
2. Good CRM for IT collects, analyses, and reports data concerning the current level of sales and customer satisfaction. It will also identify valuable customers and suggest necessary changes for opening communication channels to reach potentially more lucrative markets. And since it uses integrated tools to process all data, the results of the analyses become available across departments, which, in turn, helps integrate inter-organizational operations as well.
3. Multiple communication channels integrated into a unified support network make customers feel valued and safe. They know they can ask questions or voice their opinion anytime, and their experiences and expectations play a role in the company's business planning. This way, CRM also helps companies provide better and more appropriate services for their clients.
4. By performing a more sophisticated analysis of the actual and potential markets, CRM information technology results in a more reasonable pricing policy by adjusting prices to the current situation on the market and excluding unnecessary expenses and investments.
5. CRM provides immediate access to the information needed at the moment. That saves a lot of time and effort and considerably simplifies and facilitates productive workflow. Besides, multiple reports generated and integrated for more sophisticated and reasonable analysis helps towards a more constructive assessment of the current situation between the company and the customers.
6. Statistically, the most significant role that CRM software plays in IT or any other sector, for that matter, is to increase and effectively maintain customer satisfaction. It helps improve customer service and make a more personalized response to the customer's needs.
That could explain why IT companies that use the best CRM software boast a 50% increase in customer retention and up to 98% in identifying and retaining lucrative clients. As a result, the number of IT companies seeking to obtain effective CRM software continues to grow.
Nine out of ten companies, including small business operators, report using CRM, and three-quarters of those report considerable progress in retaining and expanding their clientele due to increased access to the client data.
There are so many CRM software companies offering their products and services on the internet these days that finding the best one may seem like a daunting task. Besides, how do you know who you can trust and who offers products that are worth buying? Fortunately, the situation is not as hopeless as it may seem at first.
However, before you begin to shop for IT CRM software, it is essential that you clearly understand what exactly you are looking for. In other words, you ought to thoroughly assess your business needs first. You can start by making two lists - one for your business priorities and another for any particular difficulties you may be experiencing in your client relationships.
CRM software applications may be good at dealing with different aspects of client relationship management. To understand which one will work for you best, you must remember your business purposes and always know how your business currently is. That is why it is vitally important that you keep ongoing records of your business activities and constantly analyze their current state.
Furthermore, it is equally important that you regularly assess the development of your enterprise in order to predict which business needs you might have in the future. Such assessment and analysis will, among other things, help you better understand which CRM you should obtain.
Besides, both your business aspirations and the situation on the market may change, and you will need something different from what your current CRM provides. As a matter of fact, CRM companies change and replace each other too. Therefore, as you constantly analyze your business needs, you can also keep an eye open for the new developments in the CRM industry to be ready to get an optimal one for you at the right moment.
Apart from that, there are some indications that a CRM software provider is a reputable operator, and its services are worth considering.
Ideally, CRM software should integrate well with other tools and applications and be accessible via multiple communication channels. That will make management operations more efficient and save you a lot of time and effort. Syncing is also important as it saves you the trouble of entering and keeping track of all your data separately.
Another feature to look at is how much work the CRM does for you. Good software will automatically access files, process the data, and provide you with regular reports. Apart from that, it will be compatible with other information technology and electronic accessories that you use.
CRM costs money, but you would like to know whether you want to pay for their services, and a good CRM company will offer you a free trial to decide if you would like to continue. It will also provide a choice of several price packages to suit different business needs and budgets.
In most cases, customer relationship management involves coordinating works tasks performed by several people in the company. It will work more effectively if they can all have access to and use the same tool.
The number of people involved will depend on the size and complexity of your company. Therefore, you should also inquire about the number of users CRM allows. If you run a big company, for example, CRM that only allows one or two users will not be of much use to you.
Any reputable software will accept and integrate well with multiple payment systems and provide quick and easy payment procedures.
It helps to know that you can always contact your provider if you have some questions and problems. Good CRM will provide continuous and responsive customer support, most probably via multiple channels, including live chat.
Gone are the days of sitting at the desk. You want to be able to run your business on the go. Besides, your customers will not be very happy with you if you are not accessible from their smartphones. Good CRM will provide several mobile apps, and most of its functions will be available in them too.
Online transactions are extremely risky, and you want to feel sure that your information is safe. That is why reliable CRM will use high-level SSL encryption technology to guarantee maximum protection for all your personal and financial data.
One more thing to look at when shopping for IT CRM is whether it is open-source, or OSS for short. In simple terms, OSS means the software is licensed, and its proprietor allows all users free access to its code in order to study, use, amend and distribute it freely and with any intention whatsoever.
This way, OSS resembles a public company, allowing all users to take part in its development and freely modify it to suit their purposes, which makes OSS exceptionally trustworthy from the public perspective.
Open-source software is more available on the market than its counterpart is, which makes it more commonly used too. This is an important advantage because it means access to a larger number of users, among other things. OSS is considerably cheaper to implement too. For these two reasons, open-source software becomes a powerful, efficient, and inexpensive self-marketing tool that allows for more flexible and creative implementation.
Furthermore, since OSS does not belong to its creator in the proprietory sense, the product does not depend on the latter's fate and, at the same time, can be perfectly compatible with whatever format you might be accustomed to in your company.
Its main drawbacks are:
1. You cannot create any commercially viable enterprise model with it.
2. It lacks sufficient immunity to potential hacking.
As examples of the principles we have discussed so far, we would like to mention the three best and commercially most successful CRM software providers to date.
A heavyweight champion on the CRM market, Bitrix24 is unique software. It has gone far beyond CRM and aims at facilitating the entire business operation by providing management, coordination, and communication technological tools. This IT CRM executes project and time management, social collaboration, human resource management, and it even performs documentation processing.
Bitrix24 syncs sales and marketing transactions, defines and plans business tasks, and live-streams all changes inside the organizations. It also coordinates effective teamwork, facilitates interpersonal communication via numerous channels, assesses personnel performance, and draws final reports. Besides, this CRM software manages customer support across multiple channels and integrates it into future business planning.
The unlimited number of customers and leads is provided free of charge. Plus, Bitrix24 integrates with several hundred mobile apps and is available on all browsers, Android, IOS, macOS, and Linux. You can also access it via all major social networks, such as Telegram, Viber, Facebook, and even e-mail.
1. Bitrix24 considerably improves communication inside companies.
2. This CRM is available on lots of multifunctional and very convenient mobile applications.
3. Highly professional and responsive customer support is available on an online chat 24 hours a day, seven days, completely free of charge.
1. The software is hard to set up.
3. Bitrix24 is comparatively very expensive at the higher package level.
Zoho is a cloud-based CRM software, and it is optimal for small service-oriented companies, startup ventures, and financial management. It is also a good tool for mobile business management as it has numerous multifunctional and user-friendly mobile apps. This CRM is very good at managing leads and integrating business operations with social platforms and other media.
Apart from its CRM tools, Zoho does a good job coordinating organizational tasks and projects across departments, processing financial and accounting transactions, generating and integrating financial reports, supervising regular payments, and automatically billing customers for regular services.
Moreover, Zoho provides virtually perfect security by using the top-level SSL encryption technology and strictly adhering to the General Data Protection Regulation policies.
1. Zoho is fairly easy to set up, and all its multiple functions are available on mobile devices.
2. This CRM accepts multiple methods of payment and provides impeccable and highly professional customer support.
3. It offers a reasonable and highly competitive price list.
1. Its sets of features seem excessive for small business functions.
2. Zoho's free package only allows three users and lacks free e-mailing options.
3. This CRM is comparatively difficult to customize.
This CRM may well be the most widespread of all as it has enlisted over a million clients across the world so far. Its extensive international base is what makes Salesforce so attractive and potentially very effective. It provides multiple mass e-mailing possibilities and integrates well with numerous mobile apps on all major platforms, including Android, IOS, Mac, Linux, and even Windows.
Salesforce is based on the cloud, and its list of services and functions is virtually infinite. This SRM is particularly good at providing plenty of advanced tools for drawing workflow charts, executing contact management, and progressive lead generation. All of that works well towards maintaining a high level of customer satisfaction and boosting sales growth.
1. Zoho is easy to use, and its interface is very convenient.
2. It is exceptionally good at sales performance management.
1. It may sound strange, but Zoho does not provide customer support on an online chat.
2. This CRM is not implementable on business premises.
It is impossible to overestimate the invaluable role CRM software plays in the successful development of any client-oriented enterprise, particularly in the IT sector.
Maintaining open and mutually beneficial communication channels with your customers makes them more satisfied with your business operations. And thorough knowledge and a keen awareness of your current and potential customers' needs can help you facilitate your sales growth.
Finally, by assessing different CRM software in terms of the criteria we have discussed here, you will be able to obtain an optimal and indispensable tool for the successful development of your enterprise.