CRM – keeping track of customers

by Angus Jones

You may have clicked on this topic because you wanted to know what CRM stands for, or perhaps you know that a better relationship with your customer will help your business. Customers are key to any business; an existing customer is likelier to be loyal and doesn’t need to be convinced to buy as they are already customers. If they are having a good experience, they will tell their friends. Talking to and finding your customers can be expensive, which is exactly what this guide will discuss.

Customer relationship management (CRM) manages a business’s interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customers’ history with your business to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention (keeping them) and ultimately driving sales growth.

WHY do I need CRM?

As a business starts to grow, it is hard to keep track of sales opportunities and ensure anyone in the business can see exactly what is going on with each customer. It is good to know which customers have the greatest opportunity to close a sale and the value of that sale. A CRM solution is a cloud-based software package that helps you sell. Because it is cloud-based, it means that traditionally, only big businesses could afford to buy it; now, small businesses can access the same tools for less. Be sure to read our essential guide on Cloud Solutions.

The benefits of customer relationship management software:
  • Easy access to customer data: A customer relationship management system includes a searchable database that allows users to access client and prospect information, offering them the most up-to-date information on customers from anywhere.
  • Streamlined processes: You can coordinate sales, marketing, and customer support processes. E.g. did this marketing effort result in a sale?
  • Actionable insights on business performance and customer behaviour:  Through customisable dashboards, you can see reports that segment customers, track revenue, and manage marketing campaigns.
    Finding new customers costs far more than keeping the ones you already have.

WHAT are the typical features of customer relationship management software?

  • Contact management: Searchable database of customer and prospect information.
  • Track interactions: Document conversations with customers and prospects on different channels such as phone, email, live chat, or in-person. You might also be able to track the results of marketing campaigns and identify potential cross-selling opportunities.
  • Lead management: Track and manage business opportunities throughout the customer lifecycle.
  • Calendar/reminder system: Create reminders about calls or meetings and synchronise these with the user’s calendar. It can prompt you that it is time for a catch-up and remind you of useful information.
  • Offers: Create special offers for clients who seem to be drifting away or set up and manage events that might increase customer retention.
  • Document storage: Store, share, and manage documentation and paperwork.
  • Segmentation: Divide the customer base into groups based on attributes like age, gender, location, and preferences to create targeted sales and marketing campaigns.

HOW do I choose a customer relationship management software solution?

Types of customer relationship management tools: CRM falls into three areas. Sales automation solutions help users manage inventory, order processing, and sales reporting. Marketing automation solutions help users create and manage marketing campaigns. Customer service software helps track and manage customer queries. Users should assess their customer relationship management system needs and shortlist products that meet their specific needs.
You should evaluate various solutions based on the following:

  • Competitive pricing: Any advantage offered by the CRM software will be wiped out if it’s costing you more than it brings in. Use good quality accounting software to make a few forecasts about how much revenue you might gain. Then shop around.
  • Scalability: Can the software grow and your business grows? Some packages are better for smaller businesses, others for medium businesses.
  • Ease of use: CRM software must be intuitive, or you will never want to use it. Note how many clicks it takes to conduct a basic task and how easy or difficult it is to find the needed features.
  • Support: What support, if any, is included? What hours do they operate? Do they have blogs or best practice examples?
  • Security: With all your customer data in the cloud, you want excellent security. Be careful; you can be fined for customer data breaches in Australia.
  • Integration: How well will this solution integrate with other systems you may have, like accounting, email, calendar, etc.. Be sure to read our essential guides on accounting packages and office productivity.


A review of what different tools are available can be found here or by doing a Google search. Do your evaluation carefully. Some solutions may offer you too many features. Others have lots of add-on modules with extra functionality, which start adding to the price quickly. Most solutions will offer free trials for you to get a better feel; some even offer the basics for free.

SUMMARY – CRM data quality

Our last call out here is the CRM system is only as good as the data it has, so if it is not used or information is out of date, then it stops being a useful tool.

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