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Small business customer relationship management

small business seems to have small issues which may appear trivial to some but they are very annoying and difficult to manage together, especially when it comes to customer relationship management as this an issue which is out of the office job. Big enterprises have their own software to handle all the queries systematically. However, small firms are a bit skeptical in operating on management information system in their firm as they find it a clumsy affair. But practically there are such softwares available in the market which are tailored to the needs of the small companies and are still user friendly.


In the past, customer relationship management (CRM) software was mostly programmed by software giants like Oracle, Siebel, SSA who designed them for big companies. But since last decade it has become quite popular among the small firms as well. The most widely used CRM software for small enterprises are Microsoft Outlook and Symantec ACT which provide contact databases, calendars and schedules for the database management. For those who wish to know about the basics of the CRM software here we will discuss it in detail.


customer relationship management (CRM) software:


It is a program designed to manage the customer related data of the company in a systematic way right from the point where the consumer enters the firm as the "prospective customer " to the point when deal is closed and he becomes the firm's consumer after which the company needs to take care of his after sales services and other related queries. Thus, this software generates the complete profile of the customer which can be accessed any time the company wants, facilitates intra-firm communication and provides efficient network through applications which directly reach the point of their destination.


Utility of CRM Software In small business:


Like every business, a small business also has to deal with many customer s posting their various queries. Thus, it is obvious that one customer is in communication with many people in the firm's hierarchy. This increases the chance of miscommunication with the customer leading to dissatisfactory service to him. In the nut shell, it is utmost important that the person dealing with the customer should have his complete database with him for the efficient and quick service. Same is true for any prospective customer also who has been in touch with the company for, say a few weeks, vanishes for a brief period, say one week, and then bounces back. With no stored database it is most likely that the whole history of communication will be either forgotten or will be retrieved after taking sometime with no guarantee of its completeness. This is where CRM software works as it has the capacity to store and retrieve all the information about a customer just on a click.


Categories of CRM software:


Based on the need and diversity of usage of the company, CRM software is available either for free or for a fee. The software into three groups:


Locally used CRM software


Distantly used CRM software


Web-based CRM software


Let us find out the difference between them:


Locally used CRM software: This is located in the system of the user's server. Thus it has the merit of its full management and gives the freedom of its updation and modification as per the need of the company. But it has some demerits too. First of all, it can not be managed without the presence of some technical professional for which one has to pay every time the service is availed. Secondly, any breach of security can not be taken care of as the owner of the server is the only one who is answerable for any breach. Thirdly, as the company will grow it will require frequent updation in the software which is a costly affair every time.


Distantly used CRM software: In this category, the services of the software can be received from the server of the software producing company. Thus it encompasses the responsibility of the service provider to take care of the proper software service and its security. Also the CRM software provider has the onus of solving all the software related problem and do its updation time to time. This saves lots of fortunes of the CRM software user. But like the two faces of the coin, this service also has some demerits. The most common and the biggest demerit is that if the service provider is not from a very good company, it can happen that the whole software disappears from the company's system taking along with it all the vital data and records. This increases the chances of misuse of the vanished data or problem in its retrieval. So, before chosing this class of software it is the most important that the software should be taken from a reputed company which ensures security as well as a backup of all the disappeared records in such a situation


Web-based CRM software: This is a recent addition in the list, known by various names like Hosted CRM, Online CRM, OnDemand CRM, SaaS (Software as a Service) and Browser Based CRM which is provided by the Application Software Provider (ASP) on the internet. Its major advantages are lesser cost of owning, faster implementation and information exchange throughout the organization, anywhere access, no extra hardware installation and automatic updation. This service can be availed by either simple monthly fee or annual subscription, varying with the service provider.


Features of Good CRM Software:


While selecting the CRM Software one should consider the following features:


1. Calls should be automatically processed.


2. Multi-user friendly.


3. Minimum 10 MB memory space.


4. Data backup should be done per hour and complete backup should be done at night.


5. Data encryption is a must.


6. Communications and calendar should be shared.


7. Prospective customer data management.


8. Auto-management of sales force.


9. Facility to tailor the knowledge as per customer.


10. Proper monitoring of job and its support system.


11. Should be capable of procuring data from different application like MS-Outlook, Act, etc.


12. Ability to accumulate and share reports and data systematically.


So, it is obvious that CRM Software is very important for small firms also to manage their customer database effectively and give better services to them. This will save time and eventually the money and develop the biggest asset for the firm, GOODWILL.


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