It’s Time to Move Past Contact Management


Many small to mid-size businesses continue to manage their business using basic contact management tools and an Excel spreadsheet.  They have become so comfortable with this process that they may have overlooked the value offered today through the use of CRM or customer relationship management software.

Why should these businesses consider CRM?  The answer is clear.  In order to respond quickly to customer inquiries and new sales opportunities, follow-up on leads and get proposals out the door your staff regardless of their position needs immediate access to vital customer information.

The strength of today’s CRM software is that it provides you with a single consolidated database that enables you to capture, track, manage and share information throughout the organization. This allows sales and support personnel to become much more efficient and productive in their jobs.

The second reason is that CRM software programs have become very affordable and easy to use.  Online, or what is commonly now referred to as cloud based CRM systems, require no IT investment and there is no hardware or software to install.  Many of these systems are operational in just a few hours or less, and there are dozens of alternatives that have been specifically designed for small to mid-size businesses.

The link below lists a group of the top cloud based CRM solutions.

Managing Customer Relationships Doesn’t Have to be a Chore

Building quality customer relationships is critical to maximizing the lifetime value of your customers and with the right customer management software this doesn’t have to be a chore.

Hi-tech robot vacuum cleaner

The key to building quality customer relationships is ensuring that all employees have immediate access to the data they need when a customer calls. Today’s customer management software solutions offer the ability to capture, manage and share vital customer information with the people who need it to provide world-class customer service.  Using a single consolidated database of customer information allows both sales and service personnel to access a complete 360 degree profile of customer information including what they purchased, when they purchased it, and if they have had any service history associated with the purchase.  More importantly the information is current and consistently updated by the people who are interacting with the customer.

While some businesses attempt to manage their relationships using Microsoft Outlook and an Excel spreadsheet, the problem is that the information cannot be shared or easily updated.  Sure you can send over a copy of the spreadsheet to your staff, but it will be obsolete ten minutes after you send it and require each staff members to update it and forward it back to all employees. This is quite a task and completely inefficient.

Customer Management software solutions are available for small, mid-size and enterprise level organizations, and are not only affordable but easier to use then they were several years ago.  A simple search of Customer Management Software or Contact Management software will provide you with a list of available companies and systems.

Image “Hi-tech robot vacuum cleaner” by Mark H. Evans on Flickr under Creative Commons license.

Which Functional Area should own CRM?

This discussion about which functional area should own CRM has been debated by hundreds people in Internet based discussion forums over the past year, but I am not sure why. CRM is a philosophy adopted by the management of well-run companies.  It is not about ownership by a specific department.  Yet based on the results of the survey below completed in 2011, it is clear that people disagree with my position and believe that CRM should be owned by a functional department, or be co-owned.


In smaller businesses, the use of CRM software is typically driven by the sales organization for managing the sales cycle and used by other departments for contact management.  In larger organizations it is typically used throughout the organization.

Regardless of the company’s size, the objective of CRM software is the same and that is to ensure a better buying experience for the customer.

There is no ownership issue here.  Creating a better buying experience for the customer occurs before, during and after the sale.  As such, CRM software often plays a vital role not only in the management of the sales process, but also in the efficient management of projects, and providing high quality customer service.   It’s a corporate initiative driven by senior management with the goal of maximizing the lifetime value of every customer relationship and it should be shared by all.