50 Questions & Answers about CRM You Always Wanted to Know

2013-05-01 by Marina Astapchik

CRM software is all the rage today. It is gaining great popularity among all businesses. If you are thinking about having a CRM solution in place as well, this article would be valuable to you. Below you can find answers to the most important questions about CRM software implementation, usage and maintenance.

Q: What is CRM?
A: CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It is a software system that is used to effectively manage the sales process, track customer interactions, store information about customers (including purchase history, revenue generated, up-selling and cross-selling opportunities, etc.), and ultimately strengthen relations with customers. CRM, however, is not just about software systems. It is a philosophy for interacting with your clients to make sure that they are happy and that they keep coming back to use your products and services.

Q: What sort of sales management functionality can a CRM system offer?
A: A CRM system can support your sales team at every stage of the sales cycle, from leads to customer management. Below are a few use cases:

  • View and manage account activity and communications
  • Use reports to forecast sales, measure business activity, identify trends
  • Qualify leads and track prospective customers
  • Centralize customer data
  • Access, update, and share information across teams and departments.

Q: What are the most important modules in CRM?
A: The main modules of a CRM system may include:

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Service Desk
  • Inventory.

Q: What is meant under Marketing Automation?
A: Marketing Automation can be described as event-based trigger marketing that is used to launch messaging and offer presentations to customers at particular points in time. CRM helps not only trigger the communications, but also measure the results.

Q: Can you point out the key differences between CRM and SFA?
A: From a software perspective, SFA (Sales Force Automation) often refers to a primary component of CRM. SFA is typically used by sales people and managers and covers functions such as contact management, account management, activity management and opportunity management. Sometimes SFA systems also include capabilities such as sales order processing, Partner Relationship Management (PRM), etc.

Q: What is double opt-in?
A: The double opt-in process implies that a subscriber fills out your signup form first and then confirms subscription to your list. In other words, the double opt-in works as follows:

1. A prospect signs up to receive emails via your website, at a tradeshow etc.
2. You send a confirmation email to him/her asking them to click on a link that confirms that they have opted to subscribe to your messages.
3. You get the double opt-in permission from prospects.

This eliminates the chance of abuse where somebody submits somebody else’s email address without their knowledge or against their will. Note that every communication you send must have the option for the contact to unsubscribe at any time.

Q: When should I start tracking my customers' activities?
A: This is best to start doing before they actually become your customers. This will help you maximize the ROI and retain each customer.

Q: How can CRM handle emails from customers?
A: CRM software may provide workflow-enabled email processing capabilities. It can retrieve emails sent from your customers, automatically route them to appropriate users based on workflow rules, send auto replies back to your customers, automatically associate emails with incidents and customers, manage multiple attachments in emails, etc.

Q: Can you give some examples of automated messages?
A: Yes. Here are several common cases:

  • Automated welcome messages to new customers, personalized with their most recent transactions
  • Thank-you messages to recognize your customers' activities
  • Lapsed messages with an irresistible offer to re-activate former highly valuable customers
  • Cross-sell messages based on previous purchases
  • Run marketing campaigns that rely on repeated contact or several 'touches' with potential customers (ideal for high-value products with a long sales cycle).

Q: Can the CRM system manage all customer interactions, i.e. driven by customer-facing employees, self-service customers, prospects, or partners?
A: The most frequently mentioned goal of CRM projects is obtaining a 360-degree view of all interactions with customers and prospects. Therefore, the CRM system must be capable of consolidating customer information across all possible channels.

Q: What industries CRM is used in?
A: CRM systems are successfully used by many different industries, including financial services, high-tech, manufacturing, media, fashion & boutiques, startups, as well as governmental organizations, non-profits and more.

Q: What type of organizations can benefit from CRM?
A: The audience of CRM users is growing. With the availability of advanced CRM capabilities, many organizations are taking advantage of the functionality it may offer, including small and medium-sized companies, corporations, associations, internet-based retailers, fund-raising organizations and others — all of which want more data-driven, personal interactions with their customers, followers, associates, sponsors, donators, etc.

Q: What can a CRM system do for me?
A: A CRM system can help you recognize prospective customers, learn more about current customers, understand their preferences, frequently anticipate their needs and respond to their requests quickly and effectively. In other words, with a CRM system, you can track, organize, and consolidate your interactions with clients.

Figure 1: Key components of a successful CRM

Q: How can the CRM benefit my business?
A: With a CRM system, your organization will be able to improve productivity, reach out to more prospects and close more sales. CRM can help you:

  • Raise customer satisfaction
  • Increase customer retention
  • Reduce marketing expenses
  • Anticipate customer needs and preferences
  • Increase operating efficiencies
  • Improve targeted marketing efforts of customers and prospects
  • Provide quicker service to customers.

Q: Can sales reps (users) import their own leads into the system?
A: Sure. A CRM might have a leads section, where they can import data about their leads into the system.

Q: I run a small business and I don’t have that many customers. Do I really need CRM software to manage them?
A: CRM software can benefit small businesses by consolidating customer data into a single system. As your business grows, keeping a record of all transactions can become very challenging. CRM will allow you to manage customer interactions more efficiently, so you have more time to focus on your service or product.

Q: Can the system be expanded as my business grows?
A: Yes, many CRM systems make it possible to scale up, i.e. add users and functionality.

Q: Why is it important to use CRM software?
A: Customer satisfaction is a key element of customer loyalty. Loyal and satisfied customers become long-term customers and your best advocates. Further, word of mouth recommendations create the most persuasive marketing for your company. Nowadays, when negative customer feedback propagates quickly to online reviews and blogs, customer service cannot be overlooked.

Q: Can CRM be integrated with social networking sites?
A: Yes, many CRM software development companies offer integration with sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others. According to Gartner, by 2017, 25% of companies adopting CRM will have extended their customer service contact centers to include social media including Facebook, Twitter and other online communities.

Q: What is social CRM?
A: Social CRM is both a philosophy and business strategy regarding customer relationship management that focuses on using social media to enhance customer engagement.

Q: How popular is social media nowadays?
A: The velocity of social media adoption is overwhelming. Below are some figures for the most popular social networking platforms (as of 2013):

  • Facebook now has more than 1 billion monthly active users.
  • Twitter has reached 200 million active users.
  • Google+ has more than 500 million users.
  • LinkedIn has more than 200 million members.
  • YouTube has more than 1 billion unique users every single month.

Q: Why is social CRM important for my business?
A: it's imperative that companies continuously show that they are listening to the voice of their customers, resolving their issues, implementing their recommendations and working to improve the overall customer experience.

Q: How to measure customer satisfaction across various touch points?
A: Customer satisfaction levels can be regularly tracked through surveys and call reviews. Measuring customer satisfaction can provide you with insights into the voice of the customer but also offers insights that will help you improve key performance metrics.

Q: What is the 'cloud'?
A: The 'cloud' is a popular word for using the Internet to access data, stored on remote servers, i.e. like somewhere in the cloud. The cloud makes it convenient to get at information and services from anywhere.

Q: What is the main difference between on-premise and cloud-based CRM solutions?
A: As the name suggests, on-premise CRM software is run on computers within the premises of an organization. In this case all the data and information is stored inside the premises of the company, too. In recent years there has been a steady growth in the popularity of web-based solutions. Cloud-based software implies that the software and all relevant data, is accessible through the Internet and is displayed in a web browser. According to Gartner, 35% of all CRM implementations today use SaaS, growing to over 50% by 2020.

Q: What is the difference between CRM and ERP?
A: CRM and ERP are often used together, though have different purposes. CRM combines Marketing, Sales, Contact Management, and Customer Support. ERP stands for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP systems help standardize and streamline numerous business processes across manufacturing, procurement, services, sales, finance, HR management, etc. ERP software is mostly used by larger, established companies.

Q: Can CRM be integrated with ERP?
A: Yes. Although some CRM solutions are used as separate applications, they can be integrated with ERP, wherein data can be shared between the ERP and CRM systems.

Q: Can I use CRM on mobile devices like the iPad and the iPhone?
A: Advanced CRM solutions are also available on mobile devices and allow you operating on the move while staying connected to your CRM system.

Q: What are the advantages of using CRM on mobile devices?
A: The major benefits include:

  • Increased sales values
  • Shortened sales cycle
  • Accelerated cash flow
  • Collection of data at its source
  • Increased productivity
  • Improved insight.

Please find more details in the infographic below.

Figure 2: Advantages of Mobile CRM
Source: crmsoftwareblog.com

Q: Is it hard to learn how to use CRM?
A: Basically, a CRM system must have an easy-to-learn and intuitive user interface, a clear, logical structure and overall great usability. Moreover, you can get clarification and training from technical support (if it is available, of course).

Q: Can CRM be integrated with MS Outlook?
A: Typically — yes.

Q: Is it possible to import contacts or calendar appointments from MS Outlook?
A: Many CRM solutions foresee integration with MS Outlook where all your contacts can be imported to CRM and vice versa.

Q: Does CRM require a dedicated IT support staff?
A: Traditional on-premise CRM systems normally require in-house IT staff to install and maintain software, while hosted CRM providers take care of all the software upgrades, data security, privacy, hardware maintenance, and anti-virus protection.

Q: Is CRM software difficult to set up?
A: Cloud-based software should cause less difficulty, since suppliers of such systems are responsible for its proper functioning. (This is one of the reasons why the popularity of cloud computing is growing at an exponential rate.) If you have opted for an on-premise system, you are supposed to invest more efforts in making your software up and running. In case your IT staff is not qualified enough, you might even run into the necessity of inviting a consultant who knows the software well and can help you get the best configuration for your business.
Q: Is it possible to import data from other CRM systems?
A: This is a possible option with many CRM systems.

Q: Are CRM reports customizable?
A: Yes, CRM software developers may offer a custom report builder so that you can quickly and easily create reports in accordance with your requirements.

Q: Are there any open source CRM systems?
A: Yes. The most popular ones include SugarCRM, vtiger CRM, SplendidCRM, hipergate, CiviCRM, Compiere and others.

Q: What drawbacks do open source CRM software systems have?
A: Open source CRM software might be a great choice, but it is still not as functionally fit as packaged applications or custom solutions. Commercial alternatives typically offer more features and maturity. For example, small shops lacking tech skills would gain much more benefit from commercial software with tailor-made functionality, high-quality support and better documentation. In addition, open source CRM solutions can take more time to get up-and-running. They also can't keep pace with the growth of proprietary CRM systems, and particularly cloud systems.

Q: What are the most popular commercial CRM systems?
A: They include Salesforce, SAP CRM, OnContact CRM, Oracle Siebel CRM, Oracle CRM On Demand, Oracle RightNow, Sage ACT!, Prophet, AIMcrm, Relenta, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and others.

Q: Can CRM software be customized?
A: Many CRM solutions offer a wealth of customization options: fields, page layouts, list views, search layouts, user level security, reports, etc.

Q: Can CRM integrate with any payment gateways?
A: CRM software development companies may offer you integration with a number of payment gateways.

Q: Can I import data from other CRM systems?
A: Most CRM systems will allow you to download your data into a CSV file so that you can take a backup, or upload it into another system or program.

Q: How do I know which CRM features to look for?
A: Start by examining how you are going to use the CRM solution. If you want your marketing department to use the CRM system, you should see whether it has the capability to run marketing campaigns and manage mailing lists. If you will use the system for customer support, you probably want the ability to track cases and automate the routing process. If you intend to use CRM for sales, then you have to make sure that the system can automatically capture leads and set up a series of lead assignment rules. Reporting is another important feature that should be present. Ultimately, the answer depends on your primary business drivers and the extent you want to integrate the CRM system.

Q: Is CRM expensive?
A: The price heavily depends on your particular case. The TCO of on-premise CRM systems might be higher than that of hosted CRM solutions. Traditional CRM systems require dedicated computing hardware, software installation, maintenance, and the staff to manage the process. Cloud-based CRM solutions incur only subscription costs that include maintenance, upgrades, and backups provided by the CRM selling company.

Q: Can individual users personalize the system to work how they want to work?
A: Some CRM software vendors offer a certain extent of individual customization options.

Q: Can the CRM system automate and orchestrate processes that extend across departments?
A: Important customer processes often involve multiple departments. Therefore, cross-departmental visibility of process management can improve the overall productivity of your organization. To maintain security in the CRM, you can also impose department-specific restrictions on access to functionality and workflows.

Q: How long does it typically take to implement a CRM solution?
A: Depending upon the software you choose and the size of your company, it may require a few days or several weeks.

Q: What are the ways of implementing a CRM solution?
A: Discuss with your potential provider how you intend to implement the CRM solution. In some cases it might be more effective to roll out the system in stages with different departments coming on at separate times. For some organizations, on the other hand, it might be easier to roll out software company-wide from the start. Ensure that the development cycle of the project fits in with your particular needs and expectations. A fast development cycle can increase costs as well as the risk of errors and problems. Alternatively, a longer development time gives more room to properly test and debug the system.

Q: Can the CRM system easily integrate with other sources of customer data?
A: Your CRM must have an architecture that ensures robust integration to vital customer information stored in financial, ERP, and other possible systems. Some integrations might be read-only, while others may require a one-way or two-way data synchronization. Make sure your CRM vendor can offer different types of integration.

Q: Which CRM software vendor should I go with?
A: The most important factors to take into account while selecting CRM software vendor are experience, expertise, reliability and credibility.

Industries and Technology Areas

Industries: Marketing, Sales, Information Technology

Technology Areas: CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, custom software development



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