5 CRM Features Your Small Business Needs
Actively managing customer relationships is no longer the sign of a well-run small business. It now is an essential practice for all businesses to engage and nurture their customer relationships. However, it is indeed true that it becomes all the more important for a SMB to do it better and most of them rely on an efficient and affordable small business CRM.
There are two reasons for this trend.
First, selling has gotten harder. With the world at their fingertips thanks to the prevalence of Internet-connected smartphones, consumers now are savvier about their buying decisions. Roughly 80 percent of consumers research their options online before making a buying decision, according to PricewaterHouseCoopers, so customers come in prepared and aware of key factors and what each potential product offers. Secondly, they also expect more from businesses because competition for their patronage is fierce and they have become more aware of the array of options available to them.
Actively managing customer relationship has also become important because the competition is doing it. Nearly half of all businesses now use marketing automation, according to aggregated stats by Jordie van Rijn at emailmonday. With the rise of cloud computing, it is easier than ever for businesses of all sizes to plug their contacts into a CRM and properly manage the customer journey. Small business CRM has come to play a much important role than ever before, as SMBs now have the added pressure of not only competing to get new users but to retain their existing user base.
So if your business does not currently use customer relationship management software, it’s high time you should. And if you do have a small business CRM in place, make sure it has these five features for better customer management and engagement.
Must-Have Small Business CRM Features
In the world of CRM, there is a dizzying amount of features on offer. Look no further than the features we offer at Agile CRM, for instance, and you might get overwhelmed and not know where to begin. If you are selecting a CRM for your small business, however, here the top five features you should focus on.
- Labels and Custom Fields
Tagging and custom fields are not sexy; you won’t find them leading the list of features for most customer management software. But they are essential, and they represent a huge “gotcha” if you select the wrong software and find these features are missing from your CRM.
The reason that labels and custom fields matter so much is to help you sort. You can’t manipulate your contacts easily if you can’t slice and dice them based on tags and custom fields that store defining characteristics. There’s no automation without a robust labeling system in your contact management software, and sorting contacts becomes much harder even if you manage it manually.
Further, custom fields are crucial. We’re constantly surprised how many systems lack the ability to create and manipulate custom data fields, because this enables organizations to store information that is essential for their business but which might not be considered by a CRM firm. If you don’t have the option to create (and search!) by custom fields, your options are very limited and working with customer data quickly becomes problematic.
We all have address books. So, your CRM should do more than just be a replacement for an address book.
Chiefly, your business needs deep automation functionality. The power of CRM comes from helping your business manage and interact with customers, not just storing their data. This is where automation comes in, and it amounts to the biggest feature advantage for firms that are serious about nurturing customers.
With strong automation, your business can set up automatic nurturing campaigns that send a series of canned yet personalized email responses, forward contacts for sales calls when the time is right, prioritize leads based on behavior, tag contacts for granular sorting along the customer journey, alert customers about sales and staff about hot sales prospects, and many other benefits.
Automated workflows for sales, marketing and customer service are key drivers of business efficiency, and a good CRM will make that possible.
- Customer Tracking
The moment you discover web and email tracking is most likely the moment you decide you need a CRM for your business. The ability to see when a customer visits one of your web pages, and for how long, is a huge and almost magical moment. More common, but also as exciting, is knowing when particular customers have opened one of your emails and clicked on a link. If you know what your customer wants, you can market and sell better, and you can deliver better customer care.
Combine customer tracking with automation and real-time alerts, and your small business suddenly looks like a Fortune 500 company because you can approach each customer in the right way but at scale—and without needing a large staff.
- Real-Time Alerts and Notifications
Acting on customer activity at the right time often makes the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity. A CRM should help with this timing, and that’s why small businesses need real-time alters and notifications in their contact management system.
Look for alert functionality that can track and notify you or your staff based on email response, clicks, web engagement, lead score, calls and customer support tickets. Also make sure that you can get these alerts via email or text—and ideally have them tie deeply to your automation workflows.
Finally, make sure that your small business CRM integrates deeply with other cloud-based services such as Gmail, Twitter, Stripe, Shopify, Freshbooks and WordPress, among others. Even if you choose an all-in-one system like Agile CRM to minimize software headaches, CRM should be the nerve center of your business and that means it must integrate and exchange information with other cloud services and systems.
The last thing you want is an island of customer data that only marginally interfaces with other services, or requires manual import-export to exchange data. Not only should your system automate customer interactions, but it should also automate data sharing and contact sync among web applications.
There are many other CRM features that will benefit your small business, but these five are basically the non-negotiables in a CRM. They represent some of the core value that CRM will give to your business, and they help you not only keep up with the competition but also serve your customers better.
In these competitive times, that’s key to your success to do what you do well repeatedly and to automate what you can’t.