Managing business relationships with customers is a vitally important job, which is why many companies use a customer relationship management system.
Typically referred to as a CRM platform, this is a term that refers to the practices, strategies, and technologies that companies use to manage and analyse customer data. The goal is to build and improve relationships with customers.
CRM systems typically compile customer data across various channels where there are interaction points, this can be through a website, telephone, live chat, marketing materials, social media.
The software is able to consolidate all of this information into a single database so that businesses can easily access and manage relationships with customers.
Not only does it track new interactions with customers, it also holds records of previous dealings, this helps to build up a unique customer history so that a personalised approach can be developed.
There are several common features of CRM software such as marketing automation capabilities that can automate repetitive tasks, for example sending out marketing materials.
Another feature is sales force automation, this is designed to prevent the duplication of interactions between a salesperson and a customer.
Contact centre automation aims to provide things such as pre-recorded audio to assist a customer in problem solving, it basically reduces the amount of work that a contact centre agent would have to do.
Some CRM systems are also capable of helping to create geographic marketing campaigns, this will help to tailor campaigns to a specific area which may have different requirements or customer demands.
Several vendors operate in the CRM space but the dominant players are the likes of Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle. These organisations are typically focused on larger enterprises, although they do offer solutions for mid-market enterprises as well.
Many CRM systems are now available through the cloud, although on-premises is still a popular choice for companies that wish to maintain control of the admin, security, and maintenance of the database and information.