A cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solution is a must for businesses. According to Salesforce, a CRM system helps businesses “keep customer contact details up to date, track every customer interaction, and manage customer accounts.”
But with the vast number of CRM options available and continually growing, you have two choices: (1) play it safe and use the most popular solution, or (2) do a deeper dive in search of the perfect fit.
To make the right choice, make sure you can put a check next to each of these key areas.
✔ Meets Your Business Requirements
An ideal CRM solution offers two functions: those common to most businesses, and those more specific to your particular business model or industry.
In general, a CRM solution should manage customer data efficiently. Tasks include detection and deletion of duplicate data, smooth integration with other tools, and effective vendor support.
Before moving further down this list, find out: Does Your Cloud-based CRM Solution Meet Your Business Needs?
Once you have determined whether or not a CRM solution meets your business needs, the next question is whether the price is right.
Price is one of the most significant differentiators among CRM solutions. Just run a search on Google, and it’ll give you a long list of providers. Some are practically free, at least at the start, while others can be quite expensive.
There are two main factors influencing pricing – security and reputation.
✔ Is Secure and Reputable
Not all CRM solutions offer the level of security you may need. Some lack the certifications or checks and balances that ensure data safety and security. This can lower costs but it can also mean a trade-off in terms of the level of data security.
CRM systems store valuable data, such as the names and contact details of your customers and their purchase histories. These can be priceless, and that’s why CRM solutions are often targeted by hackers. A solution that fails to defend against such attacks can prove much more expensive for a company in the long run. Besides, a data leak can deeply damage a company’s reputation and may even cause the business to be sued or otherwise penalized.
Benoit TA KIM (BTK), deputy managing director APAC at EVA Group, an IT consulting and technical expertise firm, suggests asking these three questions to safeguard the stored customer information:
- Does the CRM solution keep all client and personal information adequately encrypted?
- Does the vendor have a security policy and an ISO27k certification?
- Does the vendor have a concrete policy about data processing by themselves or by third parties?
The answer to all three questions should be a firm “yes”.
A vendor who can’t provide the necessary security is likely to have a bad reputation. Check customer reviews and ask for feedback on the vendor within your industry before engaging one.
✔ Meets Privacy and Data Protection Rules
Regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and its Chinese equivalent, have brought the individual’s right to privacy under intense scrutiny. BTK suggests: “Consult with your company’s data protection officer or other authority, especially when it comes to GDPR. Where and how the data is stored is important, and CRM solutions must provide transparency in these matters.”
Like security and reputation, privacy is an important factor when deciding on a solution and working with its provider. Businesses like Sansan, which stores personal data and implements powerful data security, typically implement transparent data policies. Having such policies is even more important if your business revolves around working with third parties and using customer data for commercial purposes.
✔ Doesn’t Have an Unreasonably Long Onboarding Process
If a vendor or a solution satisfies all the above requirements but the product involves a long rollout process, think twice before signing up. Examine the timeline carefully and consider the transition needed.
There is typically some downtime when a CRM solution is rolled out. Employees need time to learn how to use it and training may be necessary. This downtime could, therefore, translate into dollar costs due to issues such as lost leads, and misdirection or loss of customer information.
Only opt for a solution that has a long rollout period if it truly meets your needs, if you have confidence in the vendor, and if there’s no alternative. Also, if the vendor has an especially good reputation in your industry, it may be worth the wait.
As with all major changes, the CRM system should be rolled out gradually. Appoint a team to gather user feedback and channel problems back to the vendor during this stage so that everything can be streamlined and dealt with efficiently.