What is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system?

14 Jul 2022  |  by Olivia Parkes

7 min read

A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a piece of software that helps track information and interactions between your company and its customers. The system can be accessed and edited by multiple departments within a business and can be used to improve the customer experience, automate parts of the sales cycle, and improve marketing communications. 

Ultimately, a CRM system provides your business with a central place where customer and prospect data can be stored, customer interactions can be tracked, and important information can be shared between colleagues. Plus, having all of this customer information in one system ensures that it is always accessible. On top of this, a CRM also reduces unnecessary clutter and paperwork, speeds up communication, and improves customer satisfaction levels.

In this guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about a CRM, including what CRM systems do, the benefits they provide, and how the systems work.

What does a CRM system do?

In its most basic form, CRM software allows you to manage your relationship with each customer and prospect. Overall, CRM systems are incredibly useful because they help organisations build customer relationships and streamline processes. As a result, they can help you increase sales, improve customer service, and boost profitability.

With the help of a CRM system, you can generate a 360-degree view of every customer. Once you have done this, you can build better relationships with your customers and engage with them in more personal and relevant ways.

Forging good relationships and keeping track of prospects and customers is crucial for customer acquisition and retention. When your business has a CRM, you can see everything in one place. This is because a simple and customisable dashboard will tell you everything you need to know about a customer’s previous history with you, the status of their orders, any outstanding customer service issues, and more.

To achieve all this, CRM systems record customer contact information, such as a customer’s email, telephone, website, social media profile, and more. On top of this, the system automatically pulls in other information, such as a customer’s recent orders. It can also store details, such as a customer’s communication preferences.

Once a CRM has gathered all this customer information, it organises it. In doing so, it provides you with a complete record of all individuals and companies your business has interacted with. Due to this, it can also show you how the relationship has evolved or changed over time.

Which businesses benefit from a CRM system?

Speaking generally, CRMs work best for service providers and businesses where a customer makes a considered purchase. For example, jewellers, real estate agents, lawyers, and accountants can all benefit from a CRM. Similarly, B2B companies with longer sales cycles also benefit from a system that simplifies business processes. However, that said, most businesses will experience at least some benefit when they use a CRM.

To determine whether your business would benefit from enlisting the help of a CRM, you first need to consider the problems and challenges that a CRM aims to solve, such as:

Increasing data accessibility

A CRM stores all of your customer information in one consolidated system that anyone can access. This means that instead of having separate data silos in each department, you can create a single up-to-date point of truth that everyone can access.

Interaction tracking

When a customer is making a considered purchase, they will often interact with a number of different team members as they move through the funnel. With the help of a CRM, you can keep track of previous interactions and improve the customer experience. You can also personalise the experience at every touchpoint.

Improve productivity and establish workflows

With a CRM system in place, you can track the productivity of team members and create accountability. Plus, by putting all of your business information in one place, you can also establish a workflow or a process that the entire team must follow.

Improve understanding of relationships

A CRM can also improve the relationships you have with your customers. This is because the CRM creates a 360-degree view of every customer and prospect. By showing you the information you need when you need it, the system can ensure that you have better-informed conversations with these customers. It can also ensure you’re targeting them with relevant marketing materials and understand their needs.

How can your business benefit from a CRM?

Companies use CRM systems for a great number of reasons. However, most businesses use a CRM system to improve the customer experience and increase sales.

On top of this, a CRM is highly useful because it automates mundane tasks like data entry, cross-department communication, interaction tracking, and elements of campaign delivery. Plus, due to the fact that many CRMs are now cloud-based, you can access this information from anywhere in the world.

CRMs are also popular because they help a company streamline its sales strategies, marketing activities, and customer service efforts. That said, different departments across your organisation will access the CRM for various reasons. While sales may look at the CRM in order to assess previous orders, your marketing department will likely be more interested in assessing the click-through rate of different marketing campaigns or using the CRM to automate or personalise their campaigns.

With this in mind, let’s take a more detailed look at exactly how various departments within your organisation can benefit from a CRM.

How marketing can benefit

With the help of a CRM, a marketing team can build campaigns and then automate their delivery. With an email marketing campaign, for example, a marketer can get emails to send automatically, and then receive statistics on opened/unopened mail status and click-through-rate. They can even use A/B testing to find the best strategies for their landing pages.

Plus, a CRM will also allow a marketer to segment their leads into different categories. By segmenting these leads based on factors such as how long each lead spent on the company’s website, what links they clicked on, and what kind of personal information they shared on a form, a marketer can build separate campaigns for different audiences and demographics.

Similarly, a CRM system can provide a marketer with visibility over every opportunity or lead. This means that they can map out the entirety of the customer journey. Plus, marketing teams can also use a CRM system to gain a better understanding of the sales pipeline.

Many CRM systems will include information from a customer’s public social media activity (such as their likes and dislikes), and their sentiment about specific brands and businesses. Due to this, marketing departments can use a CRM system to better understand the problems their customers are facing and how they like to engage with brands. Using this information, the marketing team can tailor their communication strategy and campaigns to ensure they are suitable for the target customer.

How sales can benefit

Sales teams can use a CRM to improve their understanding of the sales pipeline. For example, thanks to the CRM, sales managers can access reliable information about the progress of individual team members in achieving their sales targets. Plus, sales managers can also see how well individual sales teams, products, and campaigns are performing.

However, the benefits of a CRM extend beyond just the sales manager. This is because sales reps will also benefit from reduced admin, a deeper understanding of their clients, and the opportunity to spend more time selling and less time inputting data.

How other departments can benefit

Although a CRM has traditionally been viewed as a sales and marketing tool, other departments can also receive a number of benefits from using a CRM.

For example, a customer service team can use a CRM to effectively track conversations across channels and devices. In the modern world of business, this is a particularly important function. While a customer may initially ask a question or log a complaint on social media, they may switch to email, phone, or live chat to resolve the issue in private.

By deploying a common platform for customer interactions, your customer service team can ensure that no interaction or communication is missed or lost. This can prevent your valued customers from receiving unsatisfactory, duplicate, or contrasting responses.

Similarly, supply chain managers can use a CRM to improve their management of relationships. With the help of CRM, they’ll find it easy to track meetings with suppliers and partners, record requests made, schedule follow-ups, and stay on top of expected next steps. Plus, the reporting functionality offered by most CRMs enables businesses to compare the efficiency of suppliers.

Finally, your company’s HR team can use a CRM to accelerate the recruitment process and track employee performance. On top of this, the CRM can also help with the onboarding process, automate candidate management, analyse resourcing needs, identify skills gaps, and support the pursuit of staff retention targets.

How Apteco can help your business with a CRM system

Our solutions interact with delivery platforms such as your CRM to ensure that you can automate your marketing campaigns and improve your engagement results.

An Apteco CDP has robust integrations in place with multiple delivery and engagement platforms, including your CRM, social media management platforms, and apps. Due to this, you can effortlessly transfer information to all your preferred fulfilment channels, business, and martech applications.

When all of your information is consolidated in this way, you can make informed decisions that are based on insights. Plus, with the help of our solutions, you can deliver a more personalised, targeted marketing solution.

On top of this, when you have a unified customer database containing personal identifiers, you can also target marketing messages and track individual-level marketing results. Because it’s accessible to other systems, data stored in an Apteco CDP can be analysed and customer interactions can be monitored.

Olivia Parkes

Olivia joined the Apteco team in May 2022 to boost the Apteco brand, improve the Search Engine Optimisation, create engaging content to push the Apteco platforms as well as sponsored advertisements. Olivia is CIM qualified and has seven years of marketing experience working in a variety of sectors.

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