Cloud computing is here. It has been for a while but current mass media campaigns in the UK are driving the message home into every household with a television. “The cloud” is an all-encompassing and flexible expression used to describe the ever changing shape and form of the virtual world, the internet.
Internet technology advances at an astonishing rate on a daily basis – web browser providers are permanently launching new versions of their product, software developers are adding freeware programs to the net all the time and the entertainments industry is always improving their services in terms of download capacity and user-friendliness. A further development is that virtual storage space at our disposal has grown at such a phenomenal rate that it is now in a position to provide businesses with a very economical way of storing data.
It makes a lot of sense therefore for the small business model to look seriously at implementing an online CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software solution. Without having to invest in new technology the small business has access to these powerful business management tools. A CRM system is a great way for a company to optimise work flow, centralise contact information and pool company resources. No-one can guarantee that your company will start making more money immediately, but a well-applied CRM solution will show rapid benefits and save your company money, time and resources. Resources are pooled and not compartmentalised meaning that all users of CRM have access to organisation information. This cuts out the need for one member of an organisation to send files, spread sheets or information stored on a particular machine to another user’s computer. Practical benefits are many and here are some examples:
- A member of the organisation has instant access to information as opposed to having to wait for a reply to an email.
- Customer records can contain far more than just a name and address – the ability to hold a history of information means your customer data becomes a powerful marketing tool.
- Transparency of this shared knowledge and cross-population from marketing and sales departments mean you can build up rich customer database.
- As well as helping you manage customer information, a direct result of this is an advanced customer service tool.
So far we have just talked about customer management, but a CRM solution offers you the same level of lead and opportunity management.
As you can see a CRM solution is a large and powerful tool with many features. New users may initially be put off by the sheer amount of learning involved, but getting to grips with specific areas rather than trying to master the entire system at first helps the newcomer learn one step at a time, and the challenge suddenly seems easier.