Selecting a customer relationship management (CRM) system starts with assessing your needs and goals, because the best CRM software is the solution that’s right for you.
Not all CRM solutions are equal
Customer expectations are higher than ever before. To stay competitive, your business must deliver quality customer experiences, which makes a strong CRM solution a necessity. Your business doesn’t have to be enterprise-sized to benefit. Every business needs a CRM solution that connects all relevant data and surfaces it in an intelligent way for sellers, marketers, field service technicians, and customer service reps.
Basic to advanced CRM
Before you choose the best CRM solution for your organisation, it’s important to understand what CRM is and why it’s essential. Check out What is CRM to brush up on the fundamentals.
While every business is doing CRM at some level, there’s a lot of room to add value in many instances. Some organisations use an informal process that might include spreadsheets and sticky notes, while others have multiple software solutions that don’t work together.
Where these systems fall short is in providing teams across your company with a complete view of each customer relationship. With the right CRM solution, every customer touchpoint is tracked and analysed, allowing you to:
- Grow leads, revenue, and customer lifetime value.
- Personalise customer experiences and marketing efforts.
- Increase customer satisfaction and deepen customer engagement.
- Deliver proactive and predictive field service that builds your brand.
- Discover actionable insights to grow your business.
The best CRM is connected and intelligent
Customers have more choices than ever, so better customer experiences matter. The only way to grow customer relationships and build brand loyalty is to really understand your customers. And you can’t understand what you can’t see.
By connecting all of your customer data, you gain the ability to make more confident data-driven decisions that strengthen customer relationships and grow your business. By applying intelligence to that data, you'll be able to do so even faster and with more precision.
How to begin selecting a CRM solution
The place to start is by assessing your business needs, because the best CRM solution is the one that’s best for you.
Consider your goals and needs
Start your search by considering some questions about your current processes, needs, and goals.
- Where is your customer data currently? Who has access to it?
- Do you have the kind of security and controls you need to maintain privacy and compliance?
- Is your customer data available across sales, marketing, field service, and customer service teams?
- How are you using the data you already have about current customers and potential customer relationships?
- How much time are employees spending on routine, repetitive tasks and CRM data entry?
- What are you doing to get a 360-degree view of your customers?
- Do you understand how customers are interacting with your brand across the customer journey?
Cover the basics
Now that you understand your current situation and have done some thinking about how a top CRM solution could improve things, let’s look at some of the basics that any quality CRM system should have.
- Data connectivity—Any CRM solution you consider should have the ability to connect to all of your data sources and business processes and make that data available to all who need it.
- Cloud delivery—A SaaS (software as a service) solution delivered through the cloud means less IT maintenance, ongoing updates to keep your software current, and stronger security than most organisations are able to provide on their own.
- Mobile access—Workstyles and workplaces have changed, and employees need to be able to access data and systems on any device, from anywhere, at any time.
Make sure it’s easy to use
The last thing your teams want is a new, cumbersome system to learn, or one that interrupts their productivity instead of enhancing it. Be sure to think through the day-to-day impact of a CRM solution by considering questions like these:
- Does this solution easily integrate into each user’s workday?
- Can it work the way your people do without a bunch of extra steps or repetitive data entry?
- How much training will be required to get everyone up and running?
- Is the solution intuitive so that employees will readily accept it and you get a better ROI faster?
- Does this solution provide the support you need and have room to grow with your business when your needs change?
How to get the best CRM solution
Now that you’ve done some foundational thinking, take a look at the features that make a top CRM solution the best CRM for you.
Unified data and processes
This is a key feature that will make some solutions stand out from others. Some CRM solutions work with, and even within, the email and productivity applications you already use. They operate in the context of your existing workflows, requiring little training.
In fact, a unified CRM platform saves time by eliminating repetitive data entry in multiple systems. And because a unified solution connects to all of your existing data, these solutions provide a complete picture of customer relationships and one source of data truth for decision making—effectively transforming your data-siloed organisation into one that’s data-driven.
Automation that’s intelligent
Every CRM process can be simplified and accelerated with intelligent automation. For example, wouldn’t it be helpful if:
- Sellers could spend more time building relationships and less time monitoring them, knowing that their CRM system would automatically prompt them with intelligent next actions?
- Marketing campaigns could be automated and triggered in coordination with sales processes?
- Virtual agents and chatbots could handle routine enquiries, leaving your agents more time to deliver exceptional customer service?
- Maintenance could be automatically scheduled at regular intervals, or even triggered through remote Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring for conditions that require intervention?
Artificial intelligence (AI)
A huge bonus of fully interconnected data is the ability to analyse it using AI. Patterns that might take you months to recognise, are quickly apparent to AI, helping you glean insights across your business for data-driven decision making. Your data is one of your biggest competitive assets, and taking full advantage of it accelerates success.
Your best CRM software solution
Choosing a CRM solution that matches your goals and has the intelligence, ease of use, and data connectivity you need benefits your entire organisation. Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides several business applications with CRM functionality that can be used alone or together to achieve your goals and are available to try free.
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