If you’ve ever worked, or possibly just talked to someone who worked directly with customers, you most certainly heard the phrase “The customer is always right”. This is an exaggeration, but there is truth in those words. The customer must always feel like they’ve gotten what they wanted out of the deal.

Customer relationship management, or CRM for short, is nothing new. We had seen it in economics decades ago. However, like everything else, it needed to be brought to the 21st century – digitalization, real-time data gathering, extensive data mining (various stats, graphs, reports, etc.), to name a few, have become standards of the internet age.

CRM software is a regular fixture of other eCommerce software or can be found separately as integrations, plugins, or apps.

Chances are, you’ve already used aspects of CRM without even realizing it, and that’s enough for most eCommerce admins/managers. But what if you’re approaching the issue head-on, i.e., specifically targeting CRM software that will help you grow that part of your business – what do you look out for?

We’ve compiled some of the most important features to look for while choosing your CRM software, creating a handy check-down list you can quickly go through before making the final decision.

In no particular order, let’s get started.

Automation

Hands writing on laptop

When managing a site, you’re always in some time crunch, so the perennial goal is to work less or condense the time needed to get a specific job done. What you ought to look for in a CRM software solution is automating customer-related processes.

This includes automated input channels, like forms your customers can fill out. On them, a choice can be made (from a dropdown menu, for example) regarding the category of the inquiry. The message is then immediately redirected to the appropriate person or department for processing. Additionally, a confirmation message is sent to the customer acknowledging the reception of their inquiry.

Once the contact is made, the correspondence is saved for future reference with specific labels and timestamps automatically, eliminating the need for every agent to record every interaction manually.

Systematization

Automation inevitably leads to systematization. Wherever you have clear guidelines for the people involved and a sound infrastructure (in this case, CRM software), things will get done much more efficiently. Still, systematization also equals the responses across the board.

You’re always looking to set high standards for your site, especially for customer interactions.

This shouldn’t be infrequent when the customer never knows who’ll pick up the proverbial phone. Instead, strive for continued excellence, which a CRM will help provide.

The easiest way to visualize this is to think of McDonald’s – sure, the deals will vary, just like the menu items. However, since it’s a franchise, you’ll see the same décor, the same basic menu items, the same dress code, etc. These are the kinds of standards systematization offers. Naturally, the quality of the service in question should be kept high in addition to the systematization. But, that goes without saying.

Customer Database

Person holding marker

One of the things you look to create when building up a relationship with your customers is to gather data. You have them register, or at the very least, leave their basic info when completing an order, even as a quest. That data can then be stored and used to extrapolate everything from their location, shopping habits, preferred products, etc.

A quality CRM software will take all this individual data and boil it down to quantifiable numbers that greatly help you decide on actions to increase your conversions. However, the information gathering is not one way, meaning you won’t be taking only their input data, but both ends of the interaction. Every mail you’ve sent (automated or manual), call you’ve made, really any kind of contact that happened can be stored and get added to individual or group customer profiles.

Documentation Database

Since CRM is all about customer relations, it’s expected you would have a customer database, but how about a database for everything else? Over time you’ll have plenty of data to form your very own document library.

Because you’ll have extensive data at your disposal, that library can then be used internally for something like creating educational material for your employees or organizing your stock/warehousing tendencies.
Enabling everybody’s access to the documentation and adding to it frequently ensures all your processes are done in the same way, reducing wasted time and adding to the previously mentioned overall systematization.

Customer Service

Happy customer

The customer database and the documentation database together will be invaluable to creating superb customer service. The combination of individual profiles of your customers, which lends itself to a personalized approach, and the documentation database which defines that approach across the board are key in this regard.

On one side, you have all the data you would ever need for successful communication, and on the other, an assurance every customer will be approached in the same way. A good CRM software will allow a streamlined connection between the two databases, making it easier for you as the admin to combine them into a whole greater than the sum of its parts.

Advanced Reports

Each CRM software you would use will have some reporting features, but the high-end solutions offer much more than pure numbers. You could be offered suggestions based on the data provided on improving aspects of your business. Sure, once you have enough experience in statistical analysis, you’ll probably be able to use the raw data without assistance. However, the software can make connections users sometimes can’t.

Two happy people

Good reports can benefit you across the board. Things like internal organizational structure, focus on products, marketing tactics, customer trends, etc., will be much more accessible to interpret using a good report. The bigger the data pool, the more you would need software because sifting through large amounts of raw data manually could be an endless task. At the same time, a large data pool also gives you the most accurate results, as you would expect with any statistical analysis.

Customization

Like every other software you use, CRM software should be modified to suit you and not the other way around. Therefore, you should look for software that enables you to make changes that differ from the default package. It could be the ability to change the backend dashboard, create custom reports, add custom fields on the frontend, etc.

The point is that you can scarcely find two businesses that are the same through and through, and customization options, however minor, are not only welcomed but necessary. Of course, for those with the required knowledge, the ultimate freedom would be code access.

If the provider lets you mess with the base code of the CRM software, there’s virtually nothing you wouldn’t be able to change and modify.

This would be a very specific feature that only a few end users would be able to take advantage of, so it’s not as widely spread as some others are. But, if you’re so inclined, it would enable you to create something truly unique.

Integrations

Similar to customization options, you’ll want to use CRM software that allows you to integrate other software you’re using into the core functions. You could use software like Mailchimp, Outlook, or Dropbox in addition to your CRM. But it complicates things if there is a solution out there that has access to all of those from the same place – like the backend dashboard.

Chances are, you won’t find the perfect software that covers absolutely everything since sites nowadays use dozens of helpful tools to make business easier. But, complementary programs usually work together, so if you concern yourself with just a couple of the ones crucial to you, there should be a CRM out there just right for you.

Device Support

Tablet and mobile phone on sofa

A working day for site admins doesn’t end after an 8-hour shift. Instead, it’s an around-the-clock commitment. That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be glued to your desk, bound to your computer. With high-speed connections available everywhere, much of the work is done on the fly using phones and tablets.

Therefore, a CRM needs to support these devices through dedicated apps or an adjusted version of the main product. Realistically, if it doesn’t, that should be a very good reason to skip it as your solution altogether.

Social Media

Because social media plays such a big part in the way you do business, it helps have a CRM with built-in monitoring features. These features don’t have to be extensive by any means. A simple tracker (likes, shares, comments, etc.) with the ability to make rudimentary actions (post, comment, etc.) is often enough. You’ll most likely have other apps or need to access your social media accounts directly for more advanced controls.

The main reason you would want your CRM to have social media-related features is convenience – you can keep track of everything without having to sift through tabs, apps, or platforms.

Summary

Those searching for CRM software are looking to elevate their approach to their customer relations. Because this is such an individual approach where you have to consider your business as a whole, your products, and ultimately the customers themselves, it’s rather hard finding every possible feature you could potentially use. Therefore, the ones listed here should be viewed as the most important, but not the only ones. Feel free to dig deep and go above and beyond before committing to software for your business.

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