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Cloud-based CRM platform that helps businesses manage customer contacts, prospective leads, interaction history, and more.
Cloud-based CRM platform that helps businesses manage customer contacts, prospective leads, interaction history, and more. Learn more about CBO

Features

  • Contact Management Software
  • Internal Chat Integration
  • Email Marketing Software
  • Lead Management Software
  • Territory Management
  • Task Management Software
  • Marketing Automation Software
  • Calendar/Reminder System
  • Interaction Tracking
Cloud-based solar CRM software that lets users create quotes, generate leads, manage contacts, and more from a unified platform.
Cloud-based solar CRM software that lets users create quotes, generate leads, manage contacts, and more from a unified platform. Learn more about SolarPlus

Features

  • Contact Management Software
  • Internal Chat Integration
  • Email Marketing Software
  • Lead Management Software
  • Territory Management
  • Task Management Software
  • Marketing Automation Software
  • Calendar/Reminder System
  • Interaction Tracking
AI-powered customer relationship management platform
AI-powered customer relationship management platform Learn more about Zithara

Features

  • Contact Management Software
  • Internal Chat Integration
  • Email Marketing Software
  • Lead Management Software
  • Territory Management
  • Task Management Software
  • Marketing Automation Software
  • Calendar/Reminder System
  • Interaction Tracking
Square Directory is a free tool that helps you grow your business, integrate your data, and build lasting customer relationships.
Square Directory is a free tool that helps you grow your business, integrate your data, and build lasting customer relationships. The system integrates with Square Marketing and Square Loyalty Progams to track the entire customer relationship in one location. The system saves customer data through manual entry or POS automation to create customer profiles that enhance a customers experience in a physical store location. Learn more about Square Customer Directory

Features

  • Contact Management Software
  • Internal Chat Integration
  • Email Marketing Software
  • Lead Management Software
  • Territory Management
  • Task Management Software
  • Marketing Automation Software
  • Calendar/Reminder System
  • Interaction Tracking
OpusFlow is a comprehensive ERP system for the installation industry.
OpusFlow is a comprehensive ERP system for the installation industry. The package offers all the functionalities for an installation company to capture its entire business operations in one system. OpusFlow ensures that information is always in the right place and can be organized faster, better and more structured. In addition to the standard ERP modules, OpusFlow also captures industry-specific processes that are important for the installation of solar panels, for example. Learn more about OpusFlow

Features

  • Contact Management Software
  • Internal Chat Integration
  • Email Marketing Software
  • Lead Management Software
  • Territory Management
  • Task Management Software
  • Marketing Automation Software
  • Calendar/Reminder System
  • Interaction Tracking
Cloud-based CRM solution that helps businesses manage leads, interaction history, customer contacts, and more.
Cloud-based CRM solution that helps businesses manage leads, interaction history, customer contacts, and more. Learn more about Assistive

Features

  • Contact Management Software
  • Internal Chat Integration
  • Email Marketing Software
  • Lead Management Software
  • Territory Management
  • Task Management Software
  • Marketing Automation Software
  • Calendar/Reminder System
  • Interaction Tracking

CRM Software Buyers Guide

Introduction

CRM software makes it easier for businesses and their employees to manage interactions with customers, clients, business partners, and leads. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, and CRM systems allow companies to manage relationships with customers throughout the entire customer journey, starting with the first point of contact, right through to a purchasing decision, and then into the post-sale phase.

Some of the core features you would expect to find within CRM solutions include a searchable database containing relevant customer data and a communications log, which brings together conversations and interactions from emails, social media, telephone calls, and other channels. You can also expect an email management system, which can help synchronize email communications, and an alert system, which will remind employees to get in touch with a customer.

The ability to continually log customer communication from different channels and bring it together in an accessible database can greatly enhance collaboration between sales, marketing, and customer service teams. Aside from this, CRM software can help to improve automation within an organization and facilitate easier analysis of customer data. This, in turn, makes it possible to gain valuable insights into customer behaviours, views, and expectations.

CRM solutions often have a main focus area, typically sales, marketing, or customer support software. However, some CRM systems are multi-purpose and offer a more comprehensive range of options. Moreover, CRM software can be broadly separated into on-premises software applications, which require installation, and Software as a Service (SaaS) options, which are accessible via web browsers on a wide range of different devices.

There are a number of considerations that businesses need to factor into their decision-making process when seeking out a CRM system. These include the size of the organization, remote and mobile access requirements, employees' technical skills, and the level of compatibility between the CRM software and other core software packages. To be included in the CRM software category, solutions will usually:

  • Allow customer communications from different channels to be compiled in one location, making it easier for sales, customer service, and/or marketing teams to access and utilize the information contained within
  • Enable the creation of a comprehensive customer database, which can be easily accessed, searched through, and analyzed, so that companies and their employees can find relevant information quickly
  • Offer integration with social media platforms, as well as other software applications
  • Provide email management options, making it easier to personalize any emails that are sent to customers
  • Include document storage capabilities so that letters, contracts, forms, faxes, and other important paperwork can be kept in digital formats and accessed by employees across the different departments

What is CRM Software?

CRM software is customer relationship management software, used widely by Canadian SMEs and larger businesses to effectively manage their various interactions with customers. CRM systems are designed to allow businesses and other organizations to deal with customer support issues, manage leads and the sales pipeline, and oversee long-term relationships with past, current, and potential customers. Furthermore, CRM tools can help to ensure that a company's sales, marketing, and customer service processes become more integrated, coherent, and consistent.

Modern businesses communicate with customers across a wide range of different channels, for example telephone, email, social networking sites, video calls, and live online chat services. Through the use of CRM systems, it becomes significantly easier to compile communication data from these channels in a single, centralized location. Past conversations or correspondence to be referred to during future interactions. gathering data from across the various communication channels makes it possible to build much more comprehensive customer profiles.

Many businesses turn to CRM software for assistance with some of the key challenges associated with modern customer relationships. For instance, customers expect personalized user experiences, where they are treated as an individual rather than as another face in the crowd. Achieving this requires intelligent use of data so that all forms of communication can be tailored to them. Moreover, modern customers are more likely to adopt an omnichannel approach to dealing with businesses. When this is the case, they want to be able to move across different platforms or communication channels without running into unnecessary friction, obstacles, or contradictions along the way.

What are the benefits of CRM software?

The benefits of using CRM software for your organization in Canada are numerous and wide-ranging, with many of these centering around the idea of bringing customer communication associated with customer service, sales, and marketing into one location. Some of the more specific advantages linked to the use of CRM systems within business settings include:

  • Centralization of customer data: Centralizing data related to customer communication facilitates improved coordination and collaboration between different departments. Across all industries, for example in the real estate industry, having a comprehensive CRM solution allows Canadian businesses to easily leverage data from a centralized system. At the same time, it allows certain sales, marketing, and customer service processes to be automated, aiding efficiency. CRM software also has the potential to make it easier for businesses to understand customers, including their needs, wants, and expectations, both collectively and on an individual level.
  • Fully searchable customer data: A centralized database can be accessed by multiple departments, including sales, marketing, customer service teams, and senior management, with options to search for specific customers and specific information within customer records. The very best CRM tools will also allow access to customer data from multiple devices, meaning it will be readily available, regardless of when, where, and why an employee needs it. When sales, marketing, and customer service employees are able to access information quickly, it becomes much easier to deliver personalized communication that is relevant to the customer or end-user.
  • Integration with all channels: A good CRM system will allow data from customer communications to be added from all of the various contact points, including telephone, email, social media, live online chat, and online messaging apps. This then allows for a more coherent customer experience, with cross-channel communication becoming much easier to manage, both in the short and longer-term. This means a customer can move from one communication channel to another, dealing with different staff while still enjoying a seamless experience.
  • Potential for improved automation: Customer relationship management software can make it significantly easier for companies to automate tasks related to sales, customer service, and marketing. This is especially true when standardized processes are in place. Data can also be automatically centralized and continually updated, making it accessible by the various departments as and when they need it. The end result here is improved cross-departmental communication and collaboration, with a clear focus on customers and their needs.
  • Insight into customer behaviour: Data that is added to CRM solutions can be collected and easily analyzed, allowing for deeper and more meaningful insights into the behaviour, habits, preferences and expectations of customers. This will then enable businesses to gain a much clearer sense of what their customers want, what they need, the products they like, the products they dislike, as well as any patterns of behaviour that exist. When this information is collected from direct communication with customers, it can be compared and contrasted with wider industry trends. This will establish whether a company's customers face specific issues, are exhibiting specific behaviours that may require strategic adjustments, or require extra consideration in the future.
  • Improved levels of personalization: The ability to easily access previous customer interactions and other important data from a single place makes it much easier for customer service teams and other employees to deliver a high level of personalization. This is important because 80 per cent of customers want personalization from retailers, and they are more likely to make a purchase when this is on offer. Modern customers want to be treated as individuals, each with their own concerns, needs, and opinions. CRM software makes it much easier to meet customer expectations in this way because data is collected and continually added to.

What are the features of CRM software?

CRM software tends to consist of core and common features, which are seen in most offerings, along with a range of other features that can vary significantly from one application to the next. Here are some of the most common features of HR software:

  • Contact management: Create, manage, and continually update a database that includes the contact information for past customers, current customers, prospects, business partners, and anyone else that is regarded as strategically valuable for sales, marketing, or customer service teams. In most cases, this database will also be fully searchable, making it quick and easy to identify a customer, based on their name, email address, delivery address, telephone number, social media handle, or any other information the business may have access to.
  • Communication tracking: Log communications and interactions with customers across multiple different communication channels. Conversations from telephone calls, social media, email, live chat functions and even in-person discussions can be documented and stored for future reference. Marketing, sales, and customer service employees are all able to refer back to previous communications for strategic purposes or in order to resolve customer interactions. This means customers will spend far less time repeating their problems to different employees. At the same time, businesses can achieve faster contact resolution times and higher overall success rates.
  • Lead management: Manage leads and track their progress through the entire customer journey, from the first contact, all the way to the point at which they make a purchase, and beyond. Data related to everything from lead capture to pipeline management can all be captured, stored, analyzed, and referred back to by marketing and sales staff to maximize revenue generation and reach financial goals.
  • Calendar/reminder coordination: Set up reminders, which can be integrated with individual users' calendars, as well as wider departmental and company calendars. This helps to ensure that customers who have been promised a call back will receive one at the right time, even if the person who made that promise is unavailable. Many CRM systems will include different options for the reminder function itself, such as email reminders, desktop notifications, calendar notifications, and text message reminders, depending on personal preference.
  • Social media integration: Consolidate social media interactions, across a variety of different platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and YouTube. With the rise of social networking sites, the way companies interact with customers has fundamentally changed. In response, the best CRM solutions have also evolved, placing a stronger focus on social media channels and options for managing these interactions. For example, they can automatically pull contact information from profiles, sync this data with CRM profiles, manage customer support queries across all channels, and more.
  • Email management: Look after an entire email marketing strategy from within CRM software. Various email systems from different departments can all be synchronized, permitting access from one place. In many cases, CRM systems will include email templates, which can be integrated with your CRM database, facilitating effortless personalization. Furthermore, CRM solutions with email management functionality will typically also include notifications, allowing employees to respond to emails faster, resulting in greater customer satisfaction.
  • Document storage: Keep important documents stored in one location, where they can be organized, accessed on multiple devices, and easily shared with others. Many interactions with customers will result in paperwork, and filing this paperwork can present challenges to companies. With CRM software, this can all be handled digitally as letters, faxes, emails, contracts, and other documents are all kept within a built-in file management system.
  • Segmentation: Divide customers, clients, and business contacts up into different categories or groups, based on the factors that really matter. Separate people based on age, gender, location, occupation, income, marital status, preferences, spending habits, values, product usage status, membership level, and almost any other grouping. This then allows for much more targeted sales and marketing activities, with less time and effort wasted on communication types that will be ineffective or irrelevant for particular sections of the audience.

What should be considered when purchasing CRM software?

When purchasing CRM software, buyers need to carefully consider a number of factors. The numerous CRM solutions on the market are not created equally. For example, some will have features that are better suited to small or medium enterprises, while others are intended for large corporations. Likewise, some solutions are traditional software offerings requiring installation, while others are options, which can be accessed through a web browser from almost any device. For this reason, finding the right option will largely depend on the specific strategic and operational needs of the business in question and its employees. Below, some of the more specific considerations that should be thought through when buying a CRM solutions are outlined in more detail:

  • What are the key features of the CRM?: It is important to closely consider the range of features available, as well as issues surrounding functionality. While most CRM solutions will have core features, like contact management and interaction tracking, some will have a more comprehensive range of supplementary features than others. In some cases, the additional features may not be relevant or particularly useful, however, so a balance needs to be struck. The main focus should be on finding an option that offers useful features and a solid user experience.
  • What are the objectives of the CRM? CRM software can often be divided into one of four focus areas: sales, marketing, customer service, and options that provide a more comprehensive offering. Sales-based options will usually prioritize features like inventory management and order processing, while marketing-based options will prioritize email management and other tools that can assist with advertising and marketing communications. Options primarily geared toward customer service will prioritize interactions tracking and social media integration, while the comprehensive options will cover all three areas, although often in less depth. Companies need to think about what a CRM system will be used for and choose their preferred option with this in mind.
  • What are the costs of the CRM? Pricing is an important consideration for any purchase, but with CRM software, this consideration needs to be broken down into upfront costs and continuous costs. For instance, cloud-based solutions are likely to operate on a Software as a Service model, with ongoing subscription fees required, while the costs associated with most on-premise options are largely going to center around the initial investment. On top of the costs associated with buying software and keeping it operational, investment is also likely to be required in areas like training and technical support. Employees need to know how to use the software and be able to find help when necessary.
  • Can the CRM help the business achieve its goals? Prior to deciding on a CRM software option, businesses should be clear on what they are hoping to achieve and the problems they are hoping to solve. Are there specific business challenges to overcome? Is there a need to alter core sales, marketing, or customer support processes? How will success or failure be defined? Answering these key questions can help frame precisely what the need for CRM software is, making it easier to select the option that is most likely to facilitate these goals or objectives.
  • Does the business need mobile CRM? An ever-increasing number of businesses are adopting either remote or hybrid work models. In fact, a 2020 Gartner, Inc. survey found that 82 per cent of companies are intending to permit remote working at least some of the time. In organizations where this is the case, the ability to remotely access a CRM system is essential. Depending on the devices used by employees, it may also be important to prioritize mobile accessibility and compatibility with a range of web browsers as well.
  • Is the CRM suitable for the size of the business? The needs and priorities of a small business, with only a few sales, marketing, and customer service employees, may be substantially different from the needs and priorities of medium-sized enterprises and larger organizations. Beyond this, specific business realities are another major consideration, and this includes issues like the level of technical knowledge that exists within the business, the number of staff that will need to access the CRM software, and the budget that is available to work with on customer relationship management.
  • How does the CRM handle customer data storage? Businesses need to give careful consideration to their approach to customer data storage, factoring in legal requirements and the need for compliance while also prioritizing accessibility. One of the biggest decisions in this area is usually whether or not to store customer data on-site, taking full responsibility for backing it up and keeping it safe. The main alternative is to turn to off-site, cloud-based storage, in which case a solution that functions on a Software as a Service model may be the best route to explore.
  • Is the CRM compatible with other software? Finally, it is vital to take into account integration with other software packages when making a decision on which CRM software to use. The precise applications used by a business and its employees will vary, but compatibility with the most common applications associated with sales, marketing, and customer service should be regarded as a plus point for a CRM solution. Furthermore, integration with other applications, including email clients, word processors, and spreadsheets, can be valuable too.

CRM software trends—alongside wider technology and industry trends— will also need to be factored into any decision-making process at the time of purchase. The most relevant trends within the field of customer relationship management are:

  • Increased focus on social media: A huge number of customers will now utilize social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to interact with brands, ask questions, and make complaints. Managing communication through these channels is vital because much of it will be publicly visible, meaning it has the potential to cause damage to a company's reputation if not handled effectively. At the same time, it can be advantageous for businesses to try to move the conversation away from these platforms and into a more private setting. CRM software can play a valuable role in facilitating this move, especially when different departments are involved, as it can help ensure the experience is as seamless as possible for the customers.

  • The rise of automated chatbots: Modern customers have extremely high expectations when it comes to customer service response times. One of the ways businesses are attempting to counter this is through the use of AI-powered chatbots, which can provide rapid responses on a 24/7 basis. With this in mind, one of the biggest CRM trends right now is the need for increased integration with these chatbots, allowing customer communication from this channel to be collected alongside more traditional live chat, email, and telephone conversations.

  • Continued growth of artificial intelligence: The use of AI within marketing and customer service is one of the most significant technology trends of recent times. In fact, the number of marketers who reported using AI increased from 29 per cent in 2018 to 84 per cent in 2020. While the chatbots mentioned above are a good example of this, AI is also used for everything from market segmentation to data analytics. Given this rapid expansion in AI deployment, it can be critical for businesses to find a CRM software option that offers AI support.

  • Demand for remote accessibility: Many employees are now able to carry out their jobs remotely, including from their own home or while travelling. The growth of remote and hybrid working models is one of the major global trends and is observable in a wide range of industries. Businesses adopting these models are going to require solutions that allow for remote access. There is also a shift towards more companies adopting 24/7 customer service, which means any CRM software may need to be accessible at all times of the day as well.

Sources

The features highlighted were identified based on their relevance and the percentage of products in Capterra's directory that offer them. The following sources were used for this document:

  1. Personalizing the customer experience: Driving differentiation in retail ( (Date accessed: Friday, July 2, 2021)

  2. Gartner Survey Reveals 82% of Company Leaders Plan to Allow Employees to Work Remotely Some of the Time - Gartner.com (Date accessed: Friday, July 2, 2021)

  3. State of Marketing: Sixth Edition - Salesforce Research (Date accessed: Friday, July 2, 2021)

  4. 7 Considerations When Choosing a CRM Solution for Your B2B Firm (Date accessed: Saturday, July 3, 2021)

  5. Top 10 Critical CRM Trends to Keep an Eye on for 2021 (Date accessed: Saturday, July 3, 2021)