Factors you should keep in mind while buying a CRM

“Consumers understand that they have a choice, but they have no idea how to decide.”

Sergio Zyman

In a fiercely competitive world, businesses need to continuously improve their Customer Experience to gain their loyalty and retain customers. To stay competitive, it becomes imperative for you to invest in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Solution. Before you invest, you need to be aware of certain factors that will determine your CRM success.

#CRM needs vary from business-to-business. Unless you thoroughly evaluate the functionality of a CRM it will be difficult to determine if that CRM Solution is a perfect fit for your business needs.

+Precisely for this reason, going for a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model is the best option. Most SaaS solutions work on a pay-as-you-use basis. Which means that you are not bound by contracts or long-term licenses. Adding a feather to this model is the free trial editions or free users or both. You don’t have to pay to evaluate a CRM.

#Alignment with standard industry processes, that can be configured to your business requirements.

+On demand CRM offers industry-accepted processes by default, clubbed with best practices; that can be integrated into your business processes with effortless ease. This enables you to improve

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the way your business functions.

#Enterprise Class Support – There should be more than one channel to communicate with the CRM provider.

+In general you should be entitled to Online Help, Email Support and Web Chat. Worst case you should be directly able to contact for some human assistance.

#Businesses keep evolving day-by-day. What you did not require when you buy the CRM will become a necessity somewhere

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down the line. In such scenarios, scalability of the CRM Solution is most important.

+The biggest advantage of SaaS model is that it is Flexible,

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Agile and Scalable. As your business needs evolves, an On Demand CRM Solution is flexible enough to swiftly provide you with features, which you need that are pre-built or agile enough to build features based on your request. There are options to upgrade from one edition to another that takes care of the scalability.

#When your business grows, you deal with large volumes of data; and the data exchange also takes place rapidly. Large volumes of data means increased infrastructure requirements and increased data exchange equals increased network traffic. Infrastructure can also be associated with the hardware upgrades.

+On demand CRM Solution is hosted on the Cloud (internet) and is designed to handle large volumes of data and traffic. There is no hardware requirement on your part as such, except for fully functional computer with an active Internet connection.

#No matter what, your business must go on. Your customers should not be affected. If there is an unforeseen event or a natural calamity that cannot be controlled by humans, there should a mechanism to prevent data loss and the smooth functioning of the CRM Solution.

+Typically, your data is backed up at least once a day and is stored in geographically different locations. This eliminates the risk from natural calamities or events that

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are specific to a geographic location. Also the servers have a back up in more than location to avoid any loss of continuity in business.

#The stability of the CRM Solution is critical for your business. If the CRM system goes down, your business comes to a halt. This will apply for most businesses. In that case, how fast the CRM is up and running again will count. Usually, this occurs due to poor maintenance.

+To tackle this problem, CRM Solution goes on regular maintenance. This regular maintenance is planned well in advance and is intimated to the customer before hand. This allows the customer to plan accordingly and function. By and large this maintenance is performed during non-business hours or on holidays.

#The difference between manually regulating your business and using a CRM is that it automates your business processes. Reports can be generated almost effortlessly and it gives your business tangible benefits.

+CRM Solution is a tool to automate your business processes. It gives you various types of reports that can be analyzed to gain insight into your business and leverage your business practices. These reports give key performance metrics of your business and individuals.

“I never get the accountants in before I start up a business. It’s done on gut feeling, especially if I can see that they are taking the mickey out of the consumer.”

Richard Branson

#When you regulate your business manually, you are dependent on the individual’s capacity to judge and analyze prospects, opportunities, etc. You tend to take

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decisions based on gut feeling. In the absence of an efficient individual you are left nowhere in this competitive world.

+A CRM Solution enables you to take decisions based on the available data and the past trends. Decision will be based on logic and not gut feeling. Your business is also not dependent on an efficient individual. Also the close integration of the CRM system with your business processes keeps you informed and helps you make rational commitments while dealing with customers.

#Return on Investment (ROI) of CRM Solution needs to be analyzed carefully before investing. It can vary from business-to-business and industry-to-industry. No two businesses are the same; hence comparison should be avoided. Instead independent ROI estimates can give you a better perspective

+Solutions that work on a SaaS model are generally on a pay-as-you-use basis. The cost of buying a hosted CRM can be easily calculated before hand and sensible decisions can be made. Moreover there is no upfront investment and therefore it is risk free. The time taken for deployment is near zero, except for initial configuration to suit your business needs. The cost associated with deployment time is also reduced, thereby giving quick returns.

“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.”

John Kenneth Galbraith

#Usability is a key factor, which will influence the acceptance of CRM. The more usable the system is, the more readily the employees in your company accept it.

+CRM Solution gives special attention to design, usability and the overall aesthetics of the system as it is designed to serve a wide range of customers across industries.

There is one factor that is independent of evaluating a CRM – Top Management’s Commitment. It determines the success of any CRM implementation

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regardless of the CRM Solution.

On a final note, a CRM Solution needs to be carefully evaluated to see if it is in cognizance with your business needs. Once you found the right matrix of functionality, reliability and usability; it’s time you go CRM!

If you think there are other factors to consider before buying CRM, do share it with us.

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