Customer Relationship Management: What Does That Even Mean?

Customer Relationship Management

CRM. Do those three little letters stress you out? Customer Relationship Management means different things to different people, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution, especially in an industry where firm size varies so dramatically. Let’s jump into the basics.

What is Customer Relationship Management?

At its basic function, Customer Relationship Management is just that: managing relationships with your clients and potential clients. CRM can be a 10,000-foot view of your client base, or it can be a deep dive of the details of each individual client. Consider CRM the modern-day version of a Rolodex.

What do Customer Relationship Management Tools do?

When you talk about CRM, you’re usually talking about CRM software. CRM software is a central place where all the information your firm knows about a client lives: who they are, how you contact them, where you can find them on social media, how they interact with your firm, what services they use, and more. The goal is simple: understand your clients better and put that knowledge to work.

CRM software can be very robust and include areas like sales, marketing, and client experience. A CRM can manage your relationships, keep track of client information, identify sales opportunities and score leads, track interactions through multiple channels, record issues, manage marketing campaigns and a variety of other things. CRM can stand alone, or it can integrate with other tools in your stack, such as a marketing automation tool.

What are the benefits of Customer Relationship Management Tools?

A recent survey revealed that for companies that use a CRM, the average return on their technology investment is $8.71 for each dollar spent. (Source: Nucleus Research) Why does a CRM produce such a high return on investment? Because it streamlines and automates manual processes so you can spend less time on time-consuming processes like data entry and focus more attention on forming strategy and interacting with customers. In other words, you can spend more time focusing on delivering a stellar customer experience and building brand loyalty. That’s a win for everyone.

The biggest benefit of a CRM is that it gives you a clear overview of your client. You can see everything in one place including contact information (sometimes even including their social media information), communication and interactions with the client, meetings, deals and all sorts of useful information. Access to this information leads to improved client service.

LEARN: The information in a CRM is a gold mine of opportunity. A CRM can help you understand your current clients better and give insights to cross-selling and upselling opportunities. By having better visibility into how your clients interact with your firm, you can uncover hidden potential with the clients you already have.

ORGANIZE: CRMs allow a marketer to segment their clients. You can categorize based on job title, industry, services used and numerous other factors. The possibilities are endless!

SELL: A CRM can help identify new leads, categorize them, score them and keep track of where they are in the pipeline. This can help a marketer identify and prioritize potential clients, saving time and energy so you can focus your attention on the right prospects.

UNDERSTAND: A CRM acts as a central data repository. A good CRM system helps you leverage your data by gathering information from the system to create reports for your firm. And who doesn’t want to better understand your clients?

What are my options?

According to SuperOffice, Customer Relationship Management software is now the biggest software market in the world, and the growth isn’t slowing down. In fact, CRM is now expected to reach more than $80 billion in revenues by 2025. So, there is no shortage of options out there! Here are a few of the commonly-used CRM systems.

Hubspot: HubSpot CRM is one of the leading solutions on the market because of its intuitive interface and comprehensive set of features. The free version lets you store up to a million contacts. It’s a scalable option that offers the basic CRM features you will need without the complexity of maintaining a full-fledged CRM system.

Microsoft Dynamics: Dynamics 365 is a flexible solution that is customizable to suit your needs. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a great option for businesses that need a highly configured or customized CRM solution, but it is also ideal for firms that need straightforward, ‘out of the box’ functionality.

ABLE: ABLE was created specifically for accountants. Using the CRoPs method, users can keep track of their most important relationships, categorized by clients, referrals, and opportunities. ABLE also includes access to a pipeline and NPS survey features, thought leadership segmented by industry, and DISC profiling.

SalesForce: SalesForce is one of the most popular CRMs today. It is more customizable than most and includes some of the best reporting and prediction as well as customizable workflows, automation, and team-specific dashboards.

Sugar CRM: Sugar CRM is rated number one in PCMag’s Readers’ Choice awards. Sugar CRM lets you track and monitor activities, map each customer’s journey and automate as many workflows as you need to. The system automatically gathers and analyzes insights from a broad range of social and business data sources, all with just a name and email.

A quick Google search will return comparisons of 10, 20 and even 30+ software vendors for CRMs. There are hundreds of vendors out there, but within the AAM community, other suggestions include Contact Ease, Interaction, Net Suite, ActiveCampaign, Zoho, and Greenrope.

The next step

While choosing and implementing a CRM can be an overwhelming task, there are many marketers who have successfully implemented CRM into their firm and now rely on it as much as any other tool. Reach out to your colleagues at AAM for resources and information as you start your journey. We’re all here to help!

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About Rachael McGrew

Rachael McGrew is the Business Development Director for Landmark CPAs, one of Arkansas’ largest accounting firms. In her role, she wears many hats, including overseeing the firm’s marketing and business development strategy, managing internal and external communications, maintaining the firm’s social media and web presence, planning and executing firm events and community outreach programs, assisting with M&A, coordinating recruiting campaigns, and serving on industry association committees. Within AAM, Rachael leads an AAM Circle focused on HubSpot. She is a graduate of the Leadership Fort Smith program and a 40 Under 40 honoree by both the Arkansas Business Journal and the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. She is also a member of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Arkansas’ Western Council. Rachael holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in Marketing with a minor in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Arkansas and a Technical Certificate in Graphic Design from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. She is married to an outgoing entrepreneur she’s known since junior high, and they have a witty teenager they follow around to volleyball practice and tournaments.

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