We field a lot of questions from customers and potential customers about whether they should invest in a CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, ACT or Sugar CRM or develop their own.
Although Okappy isn't a CRM system as such, it can offer a lot of the functionality that is required without having to invest in additional systems or spend a lot of time developing your own software.
But first what is CRM?
CRM - Customer Relationship Management
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is basically a database which stores all the information related to your customers. Whether thats their address, emails sent to a customer, even calls made.
Storing this information provides easy access allowing you to pull up your customers records say in the event that they call. This means you can handle the call more effectively and professionally without having to ask lots of questions that will likely have been asked previously.
Storing customer information in a database also allows you to generate reports and gain an insight into how best to target certain customers say in an upcoming marketing campaign.
The availability and sophistication of CRM software has grown dramatically over the last few years. This is a quick run down of some of the more popular packages.
Microsoft Dynamics applications are delivered through a network of reselling partners It hasn't had much love recently with no updates from 2009 to 2013. Microsoft Dynamics is part of Microsoft Business Solutions and can be used with other Microsoft solutions including SharePoint, Yammer, Office 365, Azure and Outlook. Microsoft Dynamics focuses on retail, service, manufacturing, financial services and public sector.
Microsoft Dynamics is focused more towards desktop computers where you purchase a licence to use the software.
Act! is a CRM system which stores all relationship interactions and communication history for everyone you do business with. Act! Pro integrates with apps like Office, Outlook®, Google™, Facebook®, and LinkedIn®. It's targeted towards smaller business with teams of between 1 and 10 people. It also offers Act Premium and Act Essentials.
Act was purchased by Swiftpage in 2013. In 2015, the Act portfolio of products was transformed to a cloud based subscription model.
Salesforce is arguably the leader in CRM. It brings together all your customer information in a single, integrated platform that works across sales, customer service and business analysis.
Salesforce began in 1999 with a vision of reinventing Customer Relationship Management (CRM). It has always been cloud based so no software to install and no hardware to buy.
Sugar CRM works on the open source principle. It has a community edition which is free to download and modify and paid version either hosted by SugarCRM or by other hosting companies.
This can offer a very cheap way of getting into CRM but be warned it can be quite complex.
Are There Alternatives to CRM?
The obvious alternative, and perhaps where most companies start is simply with a group of Excel spreadsheets. By keeping a record every time you call a customer and by adding other information you have essentially created your own CRM system.
This can work, say when you've just set up your electrical contracting business. You can use filters to get the information you need and can analyse the data using charts and pivot tables.
The problem Excel though is that it can quickly become unwieldy with lots of tabs, often lots of different spreadsheet and rows upon row of data.
How Can Okappy Help Manage Your Customer Information
Although not a CRM system, Okappy does allow you to store information about each of your customers. You can add jobs for a customer, send invoices and write notes and then quickly get a list of all the actions for each customer.
We also have a suite of reports which allows you to analyse your customer database enabling you to work more effectively.
Information is quickly available from your desktop, tablet or mobile telephone.
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