Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is the method by which businesses manage their customers and the sales to those customers. It’s increasingly necessary in this day and age because of the amount of business that’s done digitally, and the wide variety of platforms and software used. When a company starts, they might have a list of customers stored in a spreadsheet somewhere, with some of their contact information stored on an email server, and a list of prior sales in the form of invoices and order forms. This may work for a small company, but as it grows, it will need a centralized solution.
CRM is a one-stop solution to the problem of dispersed customer information. Because customers are such a valuable asset to a business, keeping their records in a centralized, easy to access database is crucial to any for-profit organization. You don’t want to risk a customer calling up and getting an employee who’s never heard of them before; that’s unprofessional and frustrating. Any company that wants to have a relationship with customers can benefit from a good CRM.
CRM is usually considered to be a domain of the sales department, but it also heavily involves the marketing department as well. CRM Marketing refers to the use of CRM applications by a company’s marketing department to keep track of customers and their needs. The best marketing clearly tells a customer how a business can fill a need, so it follows that the marketing department would benefit from seeing a customer’s history. It also allows marketers to reach out to customers directly in targeted ways.
In general, CRM isn’t just one application but rather a series of modules that work together to provide an integrated approach to customer management. These modules may vary, but in general, they provide some sort of contact management, task management, communications and team integration, customer support solutions, and some sort of social media monitoring. They can usually be customized according to the company’s needs.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what CRM is and how it can help your business grow, it’s time to get a brief overview of the three broad types of CRM software, who these systems are best suited for, and how they may support a company’s strategic plan for customer engagement. These three types are collaborative, operational, and analytical.
Each of these types offer different advantages and disadvantages, and each are suited to different enterprises. One company may find it needs a collaborative system, while another determines that analytic CRM software will better meet its requirements. Within each of these types there are many great solutions available. One such solution is Bitrix24, which can fill each of these types and the needs associated with them.
Each type of CRM software will be discussed in greater detail below, but here’s a brief description of each:
Collaborative: shares customer data with both the internal teams responsible for handling those customers as well as outside stakeholders like distributors or vendors.
Operational: automates sales and marketing tasks to allow you to see a customer’s entire history with your company
Analytical: Uses AI to help analyze customer data, identify patterns, and help you make informed decisions
A company like Bitrix24 has options for each of these types of CRM software, and each type is better suited to customers in different situations. Next, each of these options, as well as when they’re used and what sorts of clients each type is best suited for, will be discussed.
Collaborative CRM is a type of CRM software whose modules focus on enabling both internal and external stakeholders to see relevant customer data. They focus mainly on allowing various departments within an organization, such as sales, marketing, and technical support share customer information seamlessly in order to sell more effectively as well as provide a better customer experience. Some collaborative CRM systems also provide integrated communication tools to allow individual employees to easily work with clients and prospects.
With all of the stakeholders involved in taking care of a customer, from the sales team that helps them determine their needs to the marketing team that helps show off new services and products, maintaining a multi-channel dialogue with the customer that doesn’t let things fall through the cracks can be challenging to say the least.
Customers need to have every team, and every member of those teams, on the same page at all times or you’ll risk losing their business. Collaborative CRMs help facilitate that necessary collaboration, and bring in tools to help tie in the other businesses that are involved, like vendors and suppliers. Keeping these folks tied in can help reach a level of synergy that just isn’t possible with more traditional CRMs or without a CRM at all.
A company should consider a collaborative CRM as a solution when they have multiple internal and external stakeholders involved in taking care of a customer, and particularly if there are multiple channels in the company that handle a customer. For instance, a company may have a sales department, a marketing department, and a technical support department that are all heavily involved in meeting different customer needs. All of these individuals need to be able to access customer information, and one department’s success with a customer is directly dependent on another team’s performance.
In this case, a collaborative system may help the company flatten their communications and strategically manage their customers more effectively than they’d be able to with an operational or analytic system. If a company also has several external stakeholders that are involved in coming up with customer experience strategy, a collaborative CRM may be more suitable and may lead to better long-term success.
At its heart, Bitrix24 is a collaborative CRM system. Its modules are designed to maximize communication flow and allow all relevant stakeholders to participate in the customer care mission. It has several specific tools that provide this function, and as a free tool, it can make customer relationship management much simpler for a plurality of companies. Some of these features are:
Enterprise social network;
CRM activity stream.
Each of these systems and tools has a number of applications that can greatly reduce the barriers that can traditionally inhibit collaboration. Enterprise social network, for instance, provides easy communication tools and feeds similar to popular social media sites that allow constant communication and updates to all stakeholders.
Communication tools are pretty straightforward, and Bitrix24 provides a wide variety of options, all as part of the integrated Bitrix24 software – these include public and private chats, video and voice calls, and videoconferencing. These tools are completely free to use and can allow for real-time communication and collaboration between employees and customers.
Workgroups allow different employees and external stakeholders to gather together on one application, and are the primary project management module in Bitrix24. In workgroups, management can create tasks and assign them to employees, track task completion, and view project metrics and progress. It’s a powerful suite of tools that allow for more agile project management and can help streamline tasks.
Finally, the CRM activity stream allows managers to see, in real-time, the customer relation management activities undertaken by any members of the team. It’s a valuable way to see what other members of the team are doing and keep everyone on the same page.
Operational CRM is another type of CRM software that relies heavily on automation to help keep sales, marketing, and service on track and allows you to quickly and easily see customer historical data. Ultimately, operational CRM has the goal of converting prospects into paying customers, and it’s most effective when used in that sort of capacity. These types of CRM systems have a lot of variation between actual products, but they all are primarily used between marketing and sales.
Sales and marketing have some of the most important jobs in any business. A company needs to reach out to prospective customers and convince them that they have a particular need, and that the company can meet that need with a product or service. This is the marketing department’s job, who then have to hand off these customers to the sales department, where they’ll work through all the things that go into a sale. Therefore, operational CRM software tries to help provide continuity between these two key stakeholders in the customer relationship process.
Operational CRM is useful for companies who need their customer-facing business to be streamlined. It’s been shown to lead to better sales and more loyal customers because of how well it handles that particular job. Businesses who are especially driven by sales and marketing activities can benefit from some of the tools and modules found in operational CRM applications. Maybe these companies don’t necessarily need to have close, integrated workflows with external shareholders, or their businesses aren’t segmented to the point where there are multiple internal parties involved in customer relations.
Operational CRM software also helps by automating a lot of the daily tasks that sales teams and marketing teams have, and is all the more powerful through the use of such tools as trigger marketing, which involves creating a personalized, automatic marketing event (like an email or text message) that is automatically triggered after a customer completes an action, like making a purchase.
Operational CRMs can provide enormous value by helping a sales force avoid having to dig deep into emails to find quote information, by providing quote management software, or by allowing employees a quick reference to every customer’s historical data. These powerful applications can help make the purchasing process simpler and easier, which will lead to improved sales and customer retention. Who wants giving someone else money to be a hassle?
Bitrix24 offers a variety of tools for helping a company with its marketing, sales, and service components of CRM. With its free platform that offers a variety of features, Bitrix24 can help make managing customer relations much more streamlined. Several of these tools are particularly suited to help with marketing, sales, and service, and include:
Sales funnel automation
Marketing and sales intelligence
Sales funnel automation and the associated features in Bitrix24 allow you to easily place customers into different sales funnels to ensure the sales team is handling them properly each and every time. Another great feature is trigger marketing, which creates automated and personalized marketing events based on customer or prospect actions and can lead to increased sales, as well as social media marketing management tools.
Marketing and sales intelligence allows a company to get an instant idea of a marketing campaign’s ROI, making it a valuable tool for tracking marketing success and conversion rates to actual paying customers. It also allows for in-depth analysis of how effective the various marketing campaigns are.
Finally, analytical CRM software focuses on using customer data to help drive business decisions. Lots of companies have vast amounts of stored data, but are unable to actually use that data for useful things. It sits on servers without ever being collated or analyzed for patterns, trends, or really any useful information. Analytical CRM software provides a method for taking all this data and putting it to use for a business.
An analytical CRM is different from the other two systems in that it doesn’t necessarily give a company a platform for handling customer relations specifically. Instead, it works by aggregating the massive amounts of data that are generated from the more customer-facing CRM systems, and whatever other sales systems or software a company wants to link to it, to analyze trends. Its most important function, however, is to provide meaningful reports and analytics that actually can be used to help guide business strategy.
Analytical CRM is used to help a company sort through all of the data they collect on their customers. Valuable insights can be gleaned from this data, but it’s often too much for any human to efficiently process. Analytical CRM systems use advanced artificial intelligence to quickly sort through the data that humans otherwise couldn’t, in order to identify trends. For example, let’s say a company wants to set reasonable, but challenging, sales targets for its sales team. Bitrix24’s CRM Analytics can help provide the relevant data sets to help you make informed decisions so that your business can grow, but your employees won’t be overwhelmed.
Bitrix24’s free CRM solutions offer a variety of tools for analyzing customer data under their umbrella of CRM Analytics. Analytics is effectively built into the other modules of CRM that Bitrix24 offers so that customer data is seamlessly integrated into its powerful analytic tools. CRM analytics can offer reports on any number of a wide variety of parameters, including:
Conversion of leads into sales
Deals with working hours
Bitrix24’s powerful analytics can also provide information and reports in any number of customizable formats, and they’re all included with access to the platform.
With so many choices, a company really needs to know what they want out of a CRM solution. Many commercially available CRMs can offer a wide range of solutions that incorporate elements of each type of CRM software described above. While each solution is different, some of the main features you should look for include the following:
Social media management applications
Collaboration and communication tools
Data analytics and report-generating
Customer information management
Email marketing solutions
The list can go on and on, but often CRM providers can schedule demos with a potential customer to see exactly what’s being offered. Another important consideration is whether the CRM is available as an app so employees can access it from mobile devices, and how well the CRM will integrate with the software the business already uses.
Most businesses with a significant number of customers and a multi-channel approach to handling those customers can hugely benefit from employing a CRM solution. Whether they determine they need a collaborative CRM, an operational CRM, or an analytical CRM (or a combination of these systems), Bitrix24 has tools and solutions available to meet all these needs.
Its powerful analytics can provide customized reports on a host of parameters to help guide company strategy. Its collaboration tools can put key stakeholders in constant contact with each other for real-time customer relationship management, and its operational features can automate sales and marketing processes to help those departments work quickly and efficiently. Over 7,000,000 users agree that Bitrix24 is one of the most comprehensive CRM solutions out there, and it can be completely free. Reach out to see how it can help your business.