If you aren’t already clear about the importance of customer relationships, consider the following statistics:
● More than 85% of customers would pay more for a better customer experience.
● Almost 90% of customers who leave to seek out a competitor do so after a poor customer experience.
● Half of customers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they choose to leave that brand.
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system used to be regarded as an enterprise-level solution reserved for companies with an IT department, money to spend and enough human resources to implement a complex system. These days, small businesses are turning the CRM market on its head. With technology changes bringing more seamless integration, helpful automation, and better low-cost options, small business owners are rapidly embracing CRMs for their affordability and usefulness in retaining (and expanding) their customer base. In fact, 84% of high-performing small and medium sized businesses cite being proactive with customers as their top reason for using a CRM.
That said, finding the right CRM solution can be tricky. With a host of features and pricing structures out there, how can a small business determine which CRM is best for them? Here are some tips for making the best CRM match for your small business.
Conduct an Audit
The truth is, no single “best” CRM exists. However, with research, you can find the CRM that’s best for you. A CRM may be ranked well for its mobile application, but if everyone in your company works in-house, that CRM may not be a great fit. The best way to determine your CRM needs is to conduct an audit of your current workflow and approach to customer relationships. Interview your employees about their biggest challenges and top priorities. This will not only help you better identify company needs, but also build a foundation for later buy-in—a critical component of implementation.
Prioritize Top Features
After you have conducted your audit, make a priority list of mission-critical features your company needs to effectively handle customer relationships, workflow, and metrics. Some of the priority features you may wish to consider include:
● Search capability and speed
● Workflow automation
● Email and calendar integration
● Pipeline/opportunity management
● Project management
● Notification and follow systems
● Social media integration
● Task management and alerts
Do Your Research
Once you have your priority features or needs identified, do your research. You may run across important features you never considered but really want. Don't be afraid to stop and evaluate how these features play into your priority list. It's well worth taking the time to reconsider if it means setting up a system with full employee buy-in and a positive impact on your bottom line.
Explore Your Top Choices
Plenty of resources for comparing CRMs are just a keyword search away. One of the best resources for comparing CRMs, GetApp.com, offers a robust set of one-to-one comparisons of applications by category. The comparisons are very thorough and include customer rankings. Insightly has ranked very well amidst a handful of top-rated tools for small businesses—specifically, free CRM software. In fact, PCMag.com, another great resource, gave Insightly a rating of “Excellent” and designated it their Editor’s Choice. Take the time to compare the pros and cons of each tool carefully; the best solution for you may or may not be the one with the highest ranking. It all depends on your specific needs. Also, your top choice may not offer all the features you want -- maybe the CRM that you want only offers 8 out of the 10 features you require. In this case, contact the vendor to check if those features maybe added in the near future. Leading CRM vendors are continually updating and improving applications. In addition, take advantage of any free trials or free accounts so that you can 'play' with the product before you roll it out in your company.
Involve Your Employees
Once you have identified your top contenders, you may want to involve a team of employees in making the final choice. Bringing them into the selection process will increase their buy-in and the likelihood of effective implementation, so be sure to pay attention to their feedback, questions and concerns. Once you have narrowed your choices of CRMs, think about an internal 'bake off' with your employees. This can bring different perspectives to your decision and the employees involved in the testing can help get other employees on board with the new CRM.
Making an investment in improved customer relationships is essential to the health and growth of your business. With thorough research and comprehensive employee engagement throughout the CRM selection process, you’ll be well-equipped to find the right solution—at the right price—for you.
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