Nowadays CRM has developed beyond just customer service and support and it encompasses other kinds of business operations that may affect your general customer relationship experience. These may include such elements as sales, marketing and e-commerce. While customer service and support continues to have the largest share of worldwide CRM software sales according to a Gartner report from last year, the combined purchases of sales and marketing sub-segments (they are sometimes lumped as one module) comprise more than that of just customer support. This shows that when you look for the best CRM for your company you need to monitor your priorities, which may not only include customer support.
Today, technology trends in cloud or web based, social and mobile are pushing CRM software to deliver features that help you track everything in your business with one main product. Well and good except that not all businesses—especially small and medium enterprise—will need all the bells and whistles of the most powerful CRM software today. The best CRM software, in fact, is the one that fits your needs and resources.
When shopping around for CRM software keep in mind these factors:
If your b2b or b2c enterprise is tight on cash flow, cloud hosted solutions are your best option. The costs may add up in the long run, but ultimately, you can afford a cloud or online solution now and get your CRM up in no time. Besides, cloud services are as just robust—if not more these days—than on-premise CRM, which requires capital-intensive hardware and software purchases, not the least equally costly upgrades.
At $5 to $250 per month, Salesforce presents a cheap way for a small business to start your CRM. It has a wide selection of features (we’ll talk about these later) and they can be customized and scaled up and down to match your business.
Sugar CRM is also affordable at $35 to $100 per month. It’s simple but intuitive, making it a favorite among small to medium businesses. For more robust features, Oracle CRM on Demand ($75 to $125 per month) is known for its user-friendly features, notably the action bar for quick searches.
CRM software has varying features, but these standard functions allow us to compare and see the best performing product, more or less. Again, the best CRM solution will depend on your priority. Also make sure you understand the importance of social media in your business. Does a social media feature a top priority? A B2B company may depend less on social networks than a B2C. For more insight read, “What is social CRM software–6 key differences from traditional CRM.”
The best CRM software allows you to contact individual customer accounts, while tracking interactions with them. Moreover, the best CRM solutions connect you real-time to other relevant contacts, such as tech support or sales staff, while you’re engaged with a customer account. Powerful contact management makes it easier to address a customer’s issue with inputs from the most qualified employee in the company.
This module can be integrated or sold separately from the main CRM product. Things to look for include: marketing campaign projections; sales quote generation; leads tracking; and monitoring of competition. The best CRM solutions allow a seamless look at your revenues and its growth potential based on insights gained from contact management.
The best CRM software helps you not only track customer interactions, but your employees’ specific engagement with them and the end result of the communication. This module helps you track gaps between customer expectations and your company’s delivery of service or fulfillment. It also helps you pinpoint weak links among your staff or areas in customer service delivery that need improving. Top CRM employee tracking and support solutions also allow collaboration among employees for best practices. This feature is helpful, too, during annual employee assessments.
CRM with powerful features tend to clutter the dashboard with too many tools. The best CRM software products are those with easy-to-grasp navigation and search tools. They help locate information fast and accurately. The fewer steps required to search for data, the better. Some of the features to look for include: step-by-step instructions; field prompts; embedded guides; and visual tutorials, normally, screen shots or in video. In short, the best CRM solutions are those that even newbies can use with little assistance from tech support.
No matter how user-friendly CRM software is, glitches will occur. The best CRM products are those that provide immediate tech support. Response doesn’t have to be on the spot (the nature of cloud service presents call centers the specter of dealing with hundreds of inquiries simultaneously), but tech support should reply within 24 hours. That’s one business day lost for the glitch, but it’s a small price to pay for affording a cloud service. The best CRM vendors understand that a reply means that you feel valued. At the least, the vendor should provide an email support. A live chat or phone call is often charged separately.
All factors averaged, Salesforce, NetSuite and OnContact are three of the best CRM software products today . All are cloud-based and have mobile access. Some of the key features of the three software products include: unlimited number of users and departments; email integration; file sharing; dialing capabilities; sales collaboration; forecasting; order tracking; group calendar; and easy to locate icons and tabs. In addition, here are their general key advantages over other CRM products:
We can only recommend the best software product based on a business’ general CRM requirements. If your company has a unique need or in a peculiar situation, your best option is to try the free demo and judge with your own experience the top CRM software vendor. You can also understand the different types of CRM software to make a better buying decision.
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