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Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software
Customer Relationship Management Software, or CRM Software, is a large class of software programs essentially designed to help businesses manage their customer information. The concept of Customer Relationship Management Software is a bit unclear for most people and in today's business environment the term CRM Software has broadly come to mean any program that can manage customer information.
CRM Software does what?
Customer Relationship Management Software to most people means a program that helps manage customer information. This is true; but the same can be said of other types of programs. There are three basic groups of customer management software. The first group being Contact Management which allows businesses the ability to organize and manage their customers and accounts, track all the associated communication and events, and perform follow ups. The second group is Sales Force Automation (SFA) which includes all the abilities of Contact Management and adds features to track sales opportunities, review all related correspondence and events, and report on the sales pipeline and related data.
Customer Relationship Management Software makes up the third group and provides all the abilities of the first two as well as abilities for tracking invoices, integrating accounting, organizing order information, and more. CRM Software typically provides the ability to track and organize every aspect of a relationship with a customer from the point of first identification as a lead through and beyond the point that they are an ongoing customer.
Who needs CRM Software?
Customer Relationship Management Software can be a major undertaking, with the cost for many systems over several million dollars and the implementation period lasting a year or more. Before making a commitment like this, every business should ask if they require a full CRM Software program. The key is to evaluate what the business needs are.
If the focus is to organize the customer and company information and be able to easily follow up with clients, then Contact Management Software will provide what is needed. For sales based businesses that need to track all customer correspondence and activities as well as tracking the sales process and performance, Sales Force Automation Software is likely the solution. For larger businesses that need to track customer and sales information as well as accounting, ordering, reconciliation, support, and all other aspect of customer contact then CRM Software may be the way to go.
Customer Relationship Management Software is a big step
As previously noted CRM Software can cost millions of dollars and take years to fully implement. This can, in part, be due to the complexity of the systems. Many provide every feature a business could need to manage all aspects of customer contact, including accounting, support, marketing, sales and so on. The systems can be so feature rich that users have a difficult time learning all the functions they are required to use. In many situations businesses find their employees working with only the sections of the CRM Software that are essential and entire modules go unused. This can be a source of frustration and create inconsistencies in the customer data. This often makes having CRM Software worse than not having it.
An educated choice for CRM Software
The first step is to evaluate exactly what the company needs to accomplish. Look at how things are done now, what things need to be changed, and what things need to stay the same. Evaluate all your options for CRM Software, and consider creating a system personalized for your business. If your accounting software is working well and you do not wish to change it, consider adding a Sales Force Automation program that will permit you to create your own custom Customer Relationship Management system.
Many businesses find that by carefully looking for the functionality they need, they can essentially create their own CRM Software system by putting together carefully chosen programs. A program like Prophet 5, which provides advanced Contact Management and Sales Management, working in association with a well chosen accounting software and support software will provide you with a Customer Relationship Management system that is chosen for the exact features and functions your business needs.
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