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Customer Relationship Management Systems.

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  • Customer Relationship Management Systems.

    Customer relationship management (CRM) is the combination of practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interactions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving customer service relationships and assisting in customer retention and driving sales growth. CRM systems compile customer data across different channels, or points of contact between the customer and the company, which could include the company's website, telephone, live chat, direct mail, marketing materials, and social media. CRM systems can also give customer-facing staff detailed information on customers' personal information, purchase history, buying preferences and concerns.

    At the most basic level, CRM software consolidates customer information and documents into a single CRM database so business users can more easily access and manage it. Over time, many additional functions have been added to CRM systems to make them more useful. Some of these functions include recording various customer interactions over email, phone, social media or other channels; depending on system capabilities, automating various workflow automation processes, such as tasks, calendars and alerts; and giving managers the ability to track performance and productivity based on information logged within the system.

    Components of Customer Relationship Management system generally include Marketing Automation, Salesforce automation, Customer Service, Contact center automation, Geolocation Technology, workflow management, lead management, Human Resource Management, Analytics, and artificial intelligence.

    The four main vendors of CRM systems are Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle. Other providers are popular among small to midmarket businesses, but these four tend to be the choice for large corporations. There are three types of CRM systems available such as On-premises CRM, Cloud-Based CRM, and Open Source CRM. In On-Premises CRM company can administrate, control, security, and maintenance of the database and information on the company using the CRM software. In Cloud-based CRM data is stored on an external, remote network that employees can access anytime, anywhere there is an internet connection. In an open source CRM system make source code available to the public, enabling companies to make alterations at no cost to the company employing the system. Open source CRM systems also enable the addition and customization of data links on social media channels, assisting companies looking to improve social CRM practices.

    For all of the advancements in CRM technology, without the proper management, a CRM system can become little more than a glorified database in which customer information is stored. Data sets need to be connected, distributed and organized so that users can easily access the information they need.

    Companies may struggle to achieve a single view of the customer if their data sets are not connected and organized in a single dashboard or interface. Challenges also arise when systems contain duplicate customer data or outdated information. These problems can lead to a decline in customer experience due to long wait times during phone calls, improper handling of technical support cases and other issues. CRM systems work best when companies spend time cleaning up their existing customer data to eliminate duplicate and incomplete records before they supplement CRM data with external sources of information.

    Pasindu Lakruwan

    Trincomalee Campus of Eastern University