CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is an important concept for the commercial department of many companies. Because to be successful, you will need to attract customers and maintain a good relationship with your customers. In the year 2017 you do not do that with pen and paper. You need a good software solution to manage and view information about your customers and prospects and use this information for commercial purposes. But do you need a separate CRM application for this? Depends on your understanding of what CRM is.
Information stored centrally
When purchasing a CRM system, many companies intend to have customer information available in one central place and manage the customer information from there. What seems to be forgotten is that companies already have a beautiful ERP system with loads of customer information. If you would add a CRM system next to that, you need to update your information in two systems simultaneously or set up an interface between these two systems. And that's not how you want to work. In addition, ERP systems are specifically designed to centrally manage data and this is usually not what CRM systems are focused on.
What is CRM for you?
Ask yourself what CRM means for your organization. Are you looking for a database with information about customers, prospects and suspects that you can use to effectively approach your target audience with your organization's products and services? Then try to accommodate CRM within your ERP solution. Because your ERP system provides lots of information about your (potential) customers from which your marketing and sales people can benefit every day. Are you looking for an advanced marketing tool to effectively and efficiently market your products or services with links to, e.g. social media and website, where the information stored in your ERP system is less relevant? Then an external CRM application such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a good tool.
There is no clear definition of CRM. As there are different perceptions of what CRM is, there are also different ways to automate CRM processes. Whereas one organization might want to support the sales department, the other seeks an innovative marketing tool. Therefore, make sure you consult experts in the field of CRM (& ERP) software. What we can conclude is that the term 'Customer Relationship Management' rarely covers the subject. CRM also includes market research, segmentation and targeting prospects and suspects. Maintaining the customer relationship is just a fraction of what companies want to achieve with CRM software.
Teun Arts is Service Manager at Dysel and it is his job to ensure that customers make optimal use of the software, now and in the future.