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How Do I Choose the Best Customer Relationship Management System?

Maggie Worth
Maggie Worth

A customer relationship management system is a computerized system specially designed to help manage customer contacts and information. Choosing the best system for your company will require you to analyze your needs and capabilities, and to assess potential options against the results. Major factors to consider include the desired functionality, the type of IT hardware and software you currently run, the size of your company, the complexity of operating the program and the cost.

The first thing to determine is what exactly you want your customer relationship management system to do. Different systems offer different functionalities. Some merely track contact information, such as addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and contact names. Others allow for more complex functions such as tracking quotes and sales, and classifying customers by type. Some systems interact with your email system, allowing you to generate automatic electronic notifications and to email communications such as newsletters.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

You will also need to consider your existing IT structure to ensure that it will work with the customer relationship management system you are considering. Considerations include system speeds, operating system compatibility and hardware compatibility. If you intend to utilize features such as email generation or sales data importing, you will also need to ensure that you choose a customer relationship management system that can work with your existing accounting and email software.

The size of your company can also affect your choice of systems. This includes not only your sales volume, but also the number of users for whom you will need to buy licenses. When evaluating this factor, you'll want to be sure to consider both your existing conditions and projected growth.

Some customer relationship management systems are more user-friendly than others. If you have someone who is technically savvy to operate the system, input data and run reports, you might be comfortable choosing a more complex system. If, however, you want general users to be able to perform these functions, you'll want to ensure that the system is as easy to operate as possible. In any case, you will want to find out what type of technical support is available and what such support will cost you.

Cost varies drastically from one customer relationship management system to another. Pricing is often based on the types of features available and the number of user licenses purchased. You may also need to evaluate other factors such as the cost of technical support and any additional software or hardware you will need to make the system work for you.

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