In the digital age, a cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution is a must for businesses. A CRM system not only stores your customers’ information, it also lets you interact with them using the tools within the ecosystem. By tracking these interactions, businesses can stay connected to their customers. This keeps the customers happy and results in mutually beneficial long-term relationships.
A cloud-based CRM solution offers all the above benefits at the user’s convenience. With employees increasingly working remotely, a cloud-based CRM solution is an absolute necessity.
With so many options available, how do you decide which CRM solution is most suitable for your company? Or is your current solution working out OK? Finding the right fit takes some matching of wants and needs with the available options. This can be a tricky process.
Meets Your Business Needs
Just because a CRM solution has great reviews doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. Benoit TA KIM, deputy managing director APAC at EVA Group, an IT consulting and technical expertise firm, has some advice: “Always define your requirements and evaluate the CRM solution against them. If you choose the tool first and try to work out how your requirements can be adjusted, it’ll only lead to loss of business performance.”
So then, what are these requirements?
Some Requirements Are Agnostic
In other words, they apply to many types of businesses. Ask if the CRM solution:
Supports duplicate data detection
There's no value in having duplicate data. Some CRM systems offer standard duplicate data detection (DDD), whereas others allow you to customize. These customizable DDD rules can be as strict or lenient as you like. For example, you can choose whether to detect duplicates by case sensitivity. Or you could detect only "active" records or add in rules for entries with typos.
Depending on the sensitivity of the data and the nature of your business, you may need a CRM solution that offers some or all of the above features.
Allows bulk data deletion
Duplicate data, when discovered, needs to be deleted. This will save storage space and make the CRM system more efficient.
Choose a CRM tool that allows you to decide whether the deletion is across single or multiple entities. With the latter, you can delete bulk entries quickly. A good system will let you schedule this task periodically and send a notification in case any errors occur along the way.
Integrates with other tools and systems
A CRM solution is meant to make workflow processes easy, so it should integrate easily with other tools.
Legacy systems – Most businesses have a basic system to manage user data; typically, this is something like Excel. When selecting a CRM tool, you should ensure it integrates easily with your existing/legacy system to make data transfer easy.
Social media – Consumers often rely heavily on social media for information about products or services. They also discuss their opinions and concerns on the same channels. Companies must be tuned in to these channels to know what is being said and how to use it to improve the consumer experience. A CRM solution that integrates with the company’s official social channels makes this process seamless. For instance, social platforms like Facebook allow you to upload contact lists from your CRM and create ads specifically for those audiences. Or you can set up notifications so that if a customer leaves a complaint, you can use the CRM to quickly find and reach out to them to resolve the issue.
Email client – Check if the tool you've selected can be integrated with your corporate email client, such as Outlook, for smooth customer communication. For example, if your company already uses a contact database management solution that allows bulk emailing, your chosen CRM must be able to work with that other tool.
Check if the CRM allows you to build custom reporting dashboards that can provide relevant insights for your business. Also, ask if you can create templates for emails and social media posts in line with the company’s brand guidelines and rules. You’ll need these functions to easily reach out to customers.
Can be tested
A CRM solution should allow a test phase. This is when users can experience real-life scenarios and uncover any associated problems.
Migration test – The CRM system should allow you to import sample data. This data can be used to run migration tests to see if all the tools, apps, and systems within the CRM ecosystem are running smoothly.
Processability test – The CRM system should allow you to run processability tests. These highlight whether the data has adapted within the new system after being transferred from the source. In other words, it tests the compatibility of the data with the tools, apps, and systems.
Is truly mobile
The biggest advantage of a cloud-based CRM solution is its accessibility, from anywhere and at any time. To ensure this, encourage employees to use the CRM solution from different devices and locations during the test phase. This allows them to provide feedback if there are any device compatibility or speed and connectivity issues.
Provides the necessary service support
The test phase is also a good time to judge the vendor’s service support. If you have a small team of users, it might be enough for the vendor to conduct a remote training session. But if the CRM solution will be widely used within an organization, the vendor should provide on-the-ground training.
The test phase can show the vendor’s response time and methods. It can also highlight their ability to deal with issues.
Some Requirements Are More Specific
A vendor’s great reputation or glowing reviews of the CRM system aren’t enough. You also need to make sure the tool provides support for your specific business functions.
For instance, a CRM solution may contain email templates, SMS messaging capabilities, and a reminder function for businesses that rely on lead generation. However, if yours is an IT business that focuses mainly on troubleshooting, you’re better off with a system that integrates calling capabilities.
Kim also suggests taking a long-term outlook. He says: “Consolidate the current requirements with the future ones that the management may foresee. A business’ needs are always changing and the CRM system you select should be able to meet them accordingly.”
Once you've identified the CRM solution that best fits your business needs, the next step is to check the vendor’s reliability and reputation, and the security of the solution. Find out how to do this in our next article: How to Choose the Optimal Cloud-based CRM for Your Company