If you are a small business you may have minimal requirements. Perhaps you simply want to store customer information such as contacts, notes, history and e-mail. A basic low cost CRM solution may meet these needs. But it’s equally important to know what they do not provide so that you are clearly aware of what you will be getting and what you won’t.
Let’s start with perhaps one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of CRM software and that’s data security.
The majority of today’s modern CRM solutions operate online in a cloud computing environment. The proper protection of your data is paramount and it does not come cheaply. So if you are looking at a free CRM solution or one where the cost is simply too good to be true, chances are your data may not be as properly protected as you think it is. If you are alright with this then fine but don’t be foolish enough to think that you r getting a high quality service here because you are not.
Smaller companies often have no issue with enabling all employees with access to see all customer information, but larger firms often want to restrict this through the use of what is often listed as security or role permissions. The only problem is that basic low cost solutions do not offer role permissions so if you have any interested in establishing what employees can see or not see, you will need a higher end CRM offering.
Maybe you are not looking to integrate with other third party applications, but you may want to add custom fields, create customer views of information, generate custom reports or enable your staff to create a custom dashboard. This is not going to happen with a basic low cost CRM solution. Once again, this may be fine for your business but if it’s not, you need to step up a notch.
Most CRM systems offer a calendar, but traditionally it’s for managing individual appointments. Higher end CRM solutions may offer a departmental or group calendar so that you can manage the activities and availability of your staff.
Low end CRM systems typically offer very little in the area of reporting. You can most likely do a monthly or quarterly forecast but do not expect a customer report generator or a built in graphical reporting package that you will find in higher cost solutions.
Low end CRM programs offer basic functionality. This is by design and one of the reasons they are so easy to use, but growth and scalability should be of concern if you think your business will require more than they currently offer. Switching CRM systems can be disruptive to your business and cost you time and money.
If you are thinking about implementing a CRM solution do your homework and make sure you select a solution that will support your future business requirements. You may find some good solutions that cost only a bit more than the basic low cost ones.