Customer relationship management (CRM) software can be a useful tool for small business owners, automating certain tasks so that less time is spent on them and efforts can be concentrated elsewhere in the business.
Amongst other things, CRM software allows small business owners to consolidate and store all their customer information electronically (e.g. contact details), track orders and communication with customers, and generate reports and dashboards (e.g. sales forecasts).
There are different CRM tools for small business owners to choose from depending on the size of the business, working environment (e.g. whether you mainly use a laptop or mobile phone to access information), and degree of sophistication required.
For instance, small business owners who are constantly on the go and are not office bound should consider internet-based CRM solutions that allow them to access data in real time.
Some CRM solutions are integrated with social media (such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), allowing small business owners to connect with their customers without having to invest in separate software.
Whilst useful, CRM tools cannot replace human input. Small business owners still need to apply their minds to customising the CRM tools to maximise value, interpreting and acting on the data produced, and interacting in person with customers.
In other words, CRM software helps small business owners to work smarter, but they still need to work. This suggests that small business owners first need to have a clear sense of how CRM solutions will benefit the business, and then decide whether these benefits justify the investment.
The first step small business owners can take is to register for the free trial versions of the CRM solutions they are considering. This allows small business owners to test and compare several options without any risk or obligation.
Open source CRM software is another low risk alternative for small business owners to explore.
Examples of CRM solutions integrated with social media include: • Batchblue.com • Contactme.com • Gist.com • Kitd.com • Nimble.com
Post By: Fadzai Munyaradzi