Customer relationship management is at the heart of every successful business. For as long as companies have been selling or providing services to their customers, the best tend to stand out. Strong customer reputations are—and always have been—built on trust, loyalty, and value.
In simpler times, business owners anticipated their customers’ needs based on past purchases and interactions over time. Customers would choose to patronize businesses based on the service they received.
With that in mind, the core concerns of customer relationship management have not changed much. What has changed is the way we manage those relationships, and that’s what customer relationship management (CRM) software is all about.
The primary purpose of the modern CRM is to help companies manage their relationships with customers more efficiently. The right CRM features enable growth at scale, helping them maintain a high level of customer satisfaction without impacting quality.
What is CRM Software?
CRM software is designed for sales teams, marketing teams, and customer service. It simplifies and consolidates customer interactions from all channels into a single interface, helping stakeholders gain deep insights into how customers interact with their brand.
Information that would otherwise be siloed within departments is available to the people who need it most. A CRM aligns teams to a common purpose, facilitating collaboration and enabling automated workflows to help employees do more in less time and ensure no opportunities are missed.
Companies that use CRM are able to close more deals, boost profits, improve customer satisfaction, and stay one step ahead of the competition. Plus, the analytic data CRM delivers provides deep insights that inform critical business decisions, supporting predictive analysis and supporting sustainable growth.
Learn more about CRM features and benefits in our CRM Ultimate Guide for Enterprise.
Why Do I Need CRM Software?
If you struggle to keep pace with incoming leads, your customer service is lackluster, you’re missing out on new business, and you can’t keep track of what’s going on in your organization, CRM software can help.
Can you run a business without CRM software? Sure you can. But you would certainly be limited as to how much you could accomplish. Today’s customer expectations are higher than ever, and there is a lot at stake. It would be virtually impossible for an enterprise to meet those needs or achieve sustainable growth without a CRM.
Today’s customers want immediate service. They want to communicate with you on the channels they prefer and to do so at a time that’s convenient for them. Each customer has unique needs, and you would need an army of people working around the clock to understand what they are and deliver on those demands. Without a CRM, profitability would be improbable—but more likely impossible.
Consider also that many companies now operate with distributed or remote teams, presenting unique challenges to collaboration and team alignment. CRM software solves these problems. The CRM gives employees a single source of truth, enabling them to work together towards a common goal. CRM software democratizes all communication and content into a single, cloud-based interface that employees can access from wherever they are and on any computer or device.
10 Features to Look for in Customer Relationship Management Software
When determining the best CRM software for your needs, it all comes down to its features. Depending on your organizational structure, your business model, and what you want to accomplish, some CRM features might be more important to you than others.
Here are ten features to look for when choosing the best customer relationship management software.
1. Unified View of Your Customers
A good CRM provides you with a unified view of your customers. You’ll gain a snapshot view of their entire lifecycle, including contact information, purchase history, communications, support tickets, preferences, and more. You’ll also be able to see how each customer interacts with your content and marketing, from email opens to website visits and more.
2. Communication Tools
CRM enables communication through various methods, from email to SMS, live chat, video conferencing, instant messaging, and good old-fashioned phone calls. Employees can send and receive messages from within the platform, removing the friction involved with switching between methods. Employees working remotely have access to centralized communication tools, like templates, dashboards, and document libraries. These features ensure they have the resources they need and enable a consistent tone across all channels.
3. Content Library
Sales teams need different types of content at each stage of the sales process. That content must be up-to-date and available when needed, and a CRM should be able to provide that. CRM content libraries can be updated by marketing and accessed by sales when needed, shortening sales cycles, and helping your sales team spend less time looking for appropriate content and more time closing.
Automated workflows make light work of repetitive everyday tasks. Automation is one of the most desirable CRM features, as it can be applied to email, lead scoring, and customer service. For example, automated email responses reassure customers that their message has been received and is in the queue. Chatbots deployed on social platforms help customers get answers to simple questions immediately—which has the dual benefit of satisfying the customer’s query and taking pressure off the support desk. Reports can also be automated to ensure stakeholders have the critical information they need when they need it most.
5. Template Library
Consistency is the hallmark of every successful business. Streamlining your brand messaging, tone, and the look of your communications is critical to this practice, and templates are a way to simplify the process. A template library within your CRM is essential to ensure employees create and send messages that support your brand ideals. Templates also reduce errors and the time it takes to prepare and send messages, so your people can get the job done quickly and move on to other tasks.
The best CRMs enable myriad levels of customization, from branding and verbiage to customized workflows and more. The CRM you choose should be capable of adapting to the way you work, not force you to change course. Look at what CRM features are available with an eye to how well those features fit your organization’s needs. These might include integrations with your current software tools or having the potential for custom integrations. Don’t limit yourself to what you need now; think about where your company is headed and what features and customizations you might need to get you there.
7. Detailed Reporting
One of the most valuable CRM features is the data it delivers. A modern CRM pulls in data from every corner of your organization, from employee productivity, interactions, communications, customer history, lead generation, and website analytic data. One of the reasons you deploy a CRM is to gain real-time visibility into these processes as such data informs your critical business decisions. You should be able to customize reports for various purposes and automate report generation to align with those needs.
Personalization is a key CRM feature and an essential tool in assuring customer satisfaction. Personalization achieves better marketing and sales results as it enables detailed audience segmentation, allowing you to tailor your messaging to customers at every stage of the buying journey. By leveraging personalization, you’ll be able to make more relevant offers, increase conversions, gain loyalty, and close more sales.
Segmentation allows you to focus your content and make it more relevant to your customers. When a customer feels like you’re speaking directly to their needs, you are much more likely to get them to advance to the next stage in the buying journey. A good CRM enables segmentation by geography, demographics, and other variables that matter to you.
Today’s CRMs integrate with a wide range of popular software and third-party SaaS. Look for CRM software that integrates with the solutions you already use, as your team will be able to hit the ground running with little to no learning curve. Your CRM may also offer integrations for tools you would like to try or use, helping you add capabilities without adding complexity.
Get The Most Out of Your CRM Investment
WayPath develops and implements custom CRM software solutions for a range of industries, including finance, government, insurance, healthcare, and the energy sector. We provide solutions that facilitate growth at scale.