Online CRMs offer a host of benefits over their on-premise predecessors, including better customer services, greater transparency, and improved reporting.
Customer relationship management (CRM) has been around in one form or another since the 1950s. In the old days, clerks would write down customer information on bits of paper and then store them in Rolodex files.
In the early 1990s, though, computer technology started to play a more important role. Firms began digitizing their customer data by entering it into PC software and storing it on floppy disks and hard drives. This innovation made data more searchable and organisation members to share it with each other.
Of course, this approach was still cumbersome. If you wanted to update distant offices with new customer data, you had to physically send storage drives to them in the past.
In the late 1990s, though, the first software-as-a-service solutions hit the market. These promised to revolutionise the way CRMs worked by making it possible for anyone to connect to these systems anywhere via the internet. This new way of doing things cut the administrative burdens on firms and reduced their costs significantly. All of a sudden, anyone could share information, as long as the files were small.
Of course, this wasn’t the end of the story. The 2000s saw the development of cloud-based CRMs. These got rid of the need for workers to occupy particular physical locations. Anyone with the right credentials and an internet connection could perform their sales function.
If you’re still using older methods to manage your customer relationships, you’re missing out. Keeping everything on-premise has major disadvantages.
In this section, we take a look at some of the benefits of moving to an online CRM and why we think it’s a good idea.
On-premise customer relationship management tools require you to be at the office to interact with them. But with an online CRM, that’s not the case. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a plane or in the bathroom, you can still communicate with clients and record details of your conversation, as long as you have internet access.
Related to this is the ability of managers to monitor remote teams, regardless of where they are. As before, it doesn’t matter if they’re at your main offices or on the other side of the planet, as long as you have an internet connection, you can see what they’re doing.
This kind of oversight is invaluable for firms operating remote or hybrid working arrangements. It makes it much easier to track productivity and sales successes compared to traditional systems.
Online CRM systems also provide radically improved customer support. In the past, it was challenging for agents to share information between themselves, particularly if they operated in different locations. However, with cloud technology, that becomes trivial. Distributed computing stores all data centrally, eliminating the need for information transfer.
On a practical level, this means that when customers call you, they don’t have to repeat the same information a second or third time. All the data you have about them is right there in front of the rep.
It also means that they can contact you any time of day if you have global offices. For instance, a U.S. customer calling in the middle of the night could get through to your Singapore or Perth office while one calling at lunchtime could speak to local agents.
Online CRM systems also have the benefit of making it easier for your teams to collaborate because everyone can see customers’ current inquiry status. Managers can easily assign jobs to suitable agents, manually routing calls if necessary.
In turn, this approach lets teams offer customers a more bespoke service. Even if clients don’t have dedicated account managers, the software makes up for the shortfall by making all their information available to anyone in the firm with permission to view it.
Online CRMs also have the benefit of providing agents with proactive reminders and notifications, telling them what they should be doing next. For instance, the software can prompt idle agents to make follow-up calls, tender deadlines, or make inquiries using new phone numbers recently entered into your system.
You can also send emails with ease when you use online CRMs. These let you set up your SMTP to redirect emails directly from the CRM, avoiding the need to keep switching between tabs or silo data, and simplifying workflow significantly.
Lastly, online CRMs provide you with helpful overviews of customer status, both for reps and managers. You can see helpful statistics showing you how well team members are resolving issues by week, month, or year.
Moving to an online CRM is considerably easier than installing and running an on-premise equivalent. In most cases, you need nothing more than suitable terminals (personal computers, smartphones and tablets) and access to the internet.
Once you choose your subscription, you’ll get access to all the services offered at that level. These might include accounts for up to 30 staff, 24/7 phone support, and integrations with other software. Generally, the more you pay, the more comprehensive the service will be. Today, most online CRM developers provide solutions all the way up to the enterprise level, letting you manage thousands of reps and tens of thousands of customers.
Once you get set up on an online CRM, the vendor will provide you with ongoing support. If you need to change the number of users, you can usually do so relatively fluidly. Just tell your supplier that you need extra capacity, or you’re downsizing and they’ll adjust fees accordingly.
Switching to an online CRM can have a tremendous impact on your organisational strategy and structure. Many firms find that they can abandon the office altogether, provide staff with more flexible working options, save money, and improve customer service all by adopting a single solution.
With that said, firms need to do implementation correctly. Fortunately, we have the team for the job.