There are a plethora of ways in which Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help any business thrive. Moverstech is a firm supporter of this notion, as our past articles on the prowess of CRM can attest to. However, there are many reasons why one may have doubts. One’s workload and pipeline may not have necessitated a CRM yet, for example. Or, more commonly, one may not be fully aware of all the conveniences CRM can provide. With this in mind, let us devote this article to exploring the most important CRM features and why you need them.
Core, common, and specialized CRM features
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software seeks to manage all aspects of a company’s interactions with customers. Thus, it consolidates customer information and interaction points into one central database. Furthermore, it automates basic processes that don’t require creative oversight, and it provides monitoring tools. From letting companies keep track of their daily schedule to centralizing information and automating processes, CRM features let companies consolidate their operations.
It is noteworthy that not all CRM solutions come with the same features and functionalities. You should thus carefully research each CRM in advance, to determine whether it provides the features your company needs most.
Core functionalities include a searchable database, dashboards for tracking metrics, and basic interaction tracking and lead management tools. However, other features like email integration, document management, and workflow automation are only common but not guaranteed. Others are even more specialized, and their presence depends on the type of CRM in question. The 3 main types of CRM are the following:
Whether any of the 3 types best suits your company will strictly depend on your company’s unique needs and goals. With this in mind, let us briefly explore each type’s CRM features and why you may need them.
Operational CRM features
Operational CRM is likely the most commonly used type. It specializes in automating operations, as the name implies, and thus typically offers the following features:
- Service automation
- Sales automation
- Marketing automation
Such tools can help your company streamline its workflow and divert creative efforts to more crucial matters.
Analytical CRM features
Analytical CRM specializes in data analysis, as it monitors customer touchpoints and customer retention rates. Thus, it typically focuses on the following functionalities:
- Predictive modeling
- Profitability analysis
- Customer segmentation
Such insights into your company’s historical data and customer interactions can be powerful assets at the hands of marketing and sales teams.
Collaborative CRM features
Collaborative CRM seeks to enhance your team’s internal collaboration. Its features typically include the following:
- Interaction management
- Channel management
Through such tools your teams can cooperate more efficiently, improving the quality of customer interactions.
5 important CRM features and why you need them
Regardless of CRM type or feature frequency, there are some features that most companies can benefit from. In no particular order of importance, here is our list of 5 important CRM features and why you need them.
1. A comprehensive customer database
Every CRM comes with a central customer database, which is the core of its other customer management features. A comprehensive customer database provides a foundation for your company to better understand, and eventually segment, your customers.
A basic database will list each customer’s basic contact information, and it will commonly include interaction and purchase records. More advanced solutions, as well as analytical CRM, will also list the effectiveness of marketing tactics on individual customers, as well as lead conversion and sales cycle information.
At the very minimum, this feature will allow you to consolidate customer contact information into a centralized database. Then, depending on its depth and scope, it can provide your sales and marketing teams with invaluable insights that can inform their future strategies.
2. Customer segmentation tools
On the subject of customer segmentation, this feature can drastically improve a company’s operations. This feature is typical in, but not exclusive to, analytical CRM, and can enhance lead conversion rates and sales.
Customer segmentation tools group customers together based on shared characteristics, be they demographic factors or customer behavior. In turn, this can allow you to improve lead analysis, especially in conjunction with such features as lead scoring. Furthermore, it can inform marketing and sales strategies, by helping tailor them to specific customer groups.
3. Automation tools
Operational CRM focuses on automation tools, and it’s the value of this feature that may explain this CRM type’s popularity. Such tools typically focus on workflow automation and can improve your teams’ efficiency and time management.
Processes such CRM can automate include outgoing preset emails and follow-up messages, customer input redirection, and performance reports. Users can typically set custom rules that trigger specific actions, letting them automate repetitive processes and thus save time. Lastly, it can automate communication records and reports on completed tasks, letting team supervisors have clearer insights on sales reps’ individual performance.
4. Customization capabilities
To be able to more precisely cater to each company’s criteria and needs, many CRM solutions offer some customization capabilities. This incredibly useful feature can let you tailor your software to your exact needs, minimize the adjustment period, and expand its capabilities.
Basic customization of dashboards and contact fields aside, many advanced CRM solutions offer extensions, plugins, and even template libraries and APIs. This level of customization can let you optimize your chosen CRM for your exact needs, and even expand its capabilities beyond its initial purpose. For example, specific templates can let CRM software become project management tools, while APIs can allow for integration with tools your company already uses.
5. Third-party integration
Lastly, third-party integration is a vital CRM feature to look for. Fortunately, it’s a rather common feature, and it can save companies time and money by letting them integrate CRM into existing tools.
Common examples include integration with email clients and email marketing software, cloud storage services, and even POS systems and accounting software. Compatibility with such third-party tools can ensure that companies don’t need to invest in additional software. Thus, it can minimize wasted time as it lets you seamlessly consolidate all of your tools and streamline operations.
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