Whatever your business or its size - capturing those all important details from your customers and potential leads is a really critical part of investing in and growing your business as well as your brand.
Excel spreadsheets used to be the first port of call for data collection but they can become difficult to manage as you add more customer records over time. While spreadsheets remain an effective tool for some small businesses, managing large volumes of customer data across multiple teams in a spreadsheet comes with challenges. The limitations of spreadsheets become more apparent as companies scale up.
Databases can help overcome spreadsheet limitations
One of the issues with spreadsheets is that they store data in separate sheets. While formulas can relate data across sheets, there are limitations compared to databases which are designed specifically for interconnecting large volumes of data across many users. As you add more customers and team members, databases can help overcome some of the pitfalls of using multiple spreadsheets. However, it's worth noting spreadsheets still have a role for moderately sized datasets.
CRMs facilitate first-party data collection
With Google announcing plans to phase out third-party cookie tracking in Chrome browsers by 2024, there is a greater emphasis on first-party data strategies. While CRM systems will not fully replace cookie tracking, which is still widely used, they can help businesses collect consented first-party data on customer interactions and behaviours. This data can feed into personalisation and marketing without relying on external tracking.
CRMs can connect teams when properly implemented
A well-integrated CRM has the potential to break down data silos and connect sales, marketing and customer support teams. However, to achieve this, the CRM needs to be fully adopted across the organisation. Poor implementation or lack of user uptake can still result in teams and systems operating in silos, limiting the benefits. But organisations that embrace CRM tools at all levels are better positioned to enable "joined-up working".
CRM benefits depend on execution
While CRM systems can drive sales increases, customer satisfaction gains and revenue growth, the business impacts depend on how successfully they are executed. According to one study, close to 50% of CRM users feel their implementation did not deliver measurable results (1). Companies need to invest in user training and change management to realise the touted benefits. It is important not to view CRM as a "magic bullet" that will automatically lead to business growth. The improvements are achievable but not guaranteed.
CRM adoption is a journey
Without a doubt, a CRM is essential for any business looking to strengthen its customer relationships and enhance customer satisfaction. It organises all the customer information in one place, making it easy to access and manage. What's more, with a robust CRM system, marketing and sales teams can potentially work more efficiently. Ultimately, the right software, when properly implemented, can streamline your business processes and lead to increased revenue and growth, giving your customers the kind of experience that will keep them coming back for more. But CRM success requires an ongoing commitment, not just a one-time investment. It is a long-term strategy requiring sustained effort to realise the full benefits.