CRM Product Reviews

Affordable CRM Solutions: Part 1 of 4

by Ash Nallawalla
CRM Manager, Macromedia Asia-Pacific

(Originally appeared in APC Magazine in a slightly different format)

CRM gurus Dr Martha Rogers and Don Peppers say that practising good CRM requires you to develop a one-to-one learning relationship with each customer, over four stages:

  • Identification
  • Differentiation
  • Interaction
  • Customisation

It's about treating different customers differently. It requires a shift in thinking, perseverance, discipline, and CRM software. It’s going to take you many interactions with each customer to improve identification of their details. You’ll need more than a few customers before you can place them in different segments and address their needs by segment. It may take even longer before you know enough to customise individual offerings.

Here's a real-life example: a Sydney hotel preferred by a colleague has collected seemingly minor observations about him over several stays. He once requested a power strip and a larger desk to accommodate his laptop and other devices; thenceforth, these have been automatically provided. He ordered skinny milk with his tea at the café and charged it to his room. When he checks in for breakfast and states his room number, the waiter comes over with skinny milk before taking his order. These personal touches make him loyal to that hotel.

Key features you should look for in a CRM software package are:

  • The Basics. The package must be able to manage data relating to individuals and companies and it should help you manage your time. Most businesses use Microsoft Office, which includes Outlook. Does the CRM package offer seamless integration with Office or a fax program so that you can compose a letter, fax, or email without leaving the CRM package?
  • Single-customer-view. You can easily lose sight of customer touch points, or not see some of them at all. You need to know which individuals work for the same company; who said or wrote what to whom and when -- you need these details a single click away. How well does the CRM package provide this 360-degree view?
  • Connectivity. Invariably, a growing business and its mobile workforce will need networked access to a central contact database, to mobile phones, and to PDAs.
  • Lead Management. You need to keep track of sales opportunities so that they may become closed sales.
  • Campaign Management. You may need to keep track of various marketing campaigns and measure their performance.
  • Data import/export. Unless you are starting an enterprise from scratch, you will need to import data from an older application. Can you import directly, or must the data go through an intermediate stage? You will also need to export data to send to associates who might use another product.
  • Third-party support. To get the most from any CRM package, you may need tips from fellow users, plug-ins, industry-specific templates, and so on. Is the package well-known and supported?

> > Go to Part 2: The Line-Up

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