by Lorcan Malone, President and COO of Swiftpage
Small and midsized (SMB) businesses love to think big, and there’s no better way to do that than with the right customer relationship management (CRM) technology. The operative words here, of course, are the right.
As the sheer volume of customer information captured through CRM continues to increase, businesses must evaluate whether they can truly capitalize on the valuable data their CRM software delivers. And so, it’s important to ensure that your CRM is designed with an SMB business needs in mind, since the tools and data that large corporations use might be of minimal use, irrelevant or even holding your SMB business back.
Instead, find a CRM that can scale to your business’s customer data needs by following a few guiding principles.
Start with the basics.
There’s a wealth of invaluable data that can be gleaned from today’s CRM technology. Businesses can aggregate information about customer demographics, pain points, organizational objectives, timelines, contact preferences and much, much more. But the truth is, SMBs are often best served by taking a more minimalistic approach to their CRM strategy.
It’s important for new CRM users to begin with the essentials before working their way up to more complicated features and data points. Otherwise, they may find themselves drowning in a sea of customer data they are not prepared to interpret or make actionable.
Commence your CRM journey by establishing what your business’s basic needs are. Are you looking to track sales? Is customer feedback a top priority? What are your customers’ needs? Sticking to the essentials will help ensure your CRM implementation’s efficiency, ease of adoption and therefore effectiveness.
After you’ve mastered the basics, you can drill down further.
Focus on areas that benefit you most.
Many CRM programs offer a daunting and seemingly endless assortment of complicated data input screens. But for SMBs, this data overload can be both overwhelming and superfluous. Such businesses are often better off focusing on the areas that offer them the greatest benefits.
According to SoftwareAdvice.com, managing contact info, tracking interactions, scheduling and email marketing are among the other top priorities for SMB. If you do these basics well, you’ll be well-served through CRM and it will help you strengthen customer interactions. Nearly 75 percent of small and midsized businesses using CRM have reported improved customer relationships.
Take advantage of new technologies.
Today’s CRM technology includes features such as voice interaction, predictive analytics and various other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) functionality. The right recommendation engine, tailored specifically for the SMB market, can provide a significant value to your business.
These technologies serve an important role in helping boil down the big data captured by CRMs to what is most relevant and actionable for your business. Though the majority of small businesses have been slow to embrace AI-capable CRMs, those taking advantage of these features are reporting significant benefits.
There’s no one size-fits-all CRM strategy for capitalizing on the big data available for today’s companies. SMBs have a unique set of needs that differ greatly from those of your large enterprise size competitors. The CRM an SMB chooses to serve those needs should reflect this reality; after all, if their needs aren’t the same, the strategy shouldn’t be either.
Lorcan Malone is president and COO at Swiftpage (www.act.com). He has over 20 years of industry experience working with companies around the world, delivering major IT solutions for Fortune 100 organizations, implementing high-profile eGovernment initiatives, and selling and delivering large scale outsourcing and IT transformation projects. Lorcan was previously VP for Infor CRM and, prior to that, served as SVP and GM for Swiftpage’s Saleslogix software and GM at Sage CRM.