How do you currently undertake the collection of tasks known as Customer Relationship Management? If it’s one of the following: your memory, your email system, spreadsheets, lists on bits of paper, a rolodex, a Filofax or even a home-grown database, should you be looking at dedicated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software?
At the core of CRM systems is a database that stores information about your contacts and interactions with them, but sophisticated CRM systems do a lot more. At a macro level, they can help you carry out sophisticated market segmentation so you can group customers and target communication. They can help you spot patterns, mining your data to reveal otherwise hidden sales trends and correlations. At a micro level, they can help you work out who your best customers are, and what their buying habits look like. They can help you work out the elasticity of demand for your goods and services: how price sensitive the whole market is, and how price sensitive an individual customer is.
They can help you automate business processes, generating automated emails to your customers based on your contact policies or to staff within your organisation prompting them to take actions. They can run your customer support tracking for you, linking all interactions to a single ticket and updating the customer on progress. They can automate many of the processes involved in an extended email campaign, personalising the emails in ways you specify, helping you to create reusable lists of recipient “targets” and organising tracker links in the email so you have some idea of return on investment.
The biggest CRMs are cloud-based, and sold on a pay per user (within your organisation) basis according to the version and features you need. Investing in a CRM on this basis can be expensive (tens or even hundreds of pounds per user per month) and is probably an unsuitable model for many small businesses. The SAW CRM day workshop looks at the free and open-source Community Edition of a large commercial CRM, Sugar, which will give you an idea of what a CRM is capable of and let you evaluate whether this system suits your needs.
The next free Using Software for Customer Relationship Management workshop is in Regency Hall, Saundersfoot, on 16 December 2014. Register your place on this course here.
Article by Dave Cheseldine
Software Alliance Wales – Workshop Developer