Many companies use different forms and lists created in MS Word or MS Excel (or their equivalents) for keeping their key information such as list of clients, their sales opportunities and prospects, and similar data and then keep these files updated and shared through email. On the other hand, there are lots of talk about utilizing Customer Relations Manager (CRM) solutions, which to many would sound like a fancy tool used by computer gurus and not something suitable for a non-IT business.
The key question especially for small businesses would be: Why should they replace the Excel forms they are used to and have been using for years – with a CRM solution that seems to be so complicated?
In this post, I will very simply answer this key question.
What is CRM?
Simply put, CRM is an online application that allows multiple users access, share, update, and process the data that is somehow related to handling customers and clients. Many CRMs do much more than this by providing communication and automatic workflows defined and fine-tuned for each specific business.
6 Reasons for Replacing your Excel Files with CRM
Below are 6 simple reasons why you should really start replacing your Excel files with a CRM:
1- Sharing a single source of updated information
Although you can also share an Excel file with a team, there are obvious challenges in maintaining the updated file – there is always challenges such as “who has the latest updated version of the file” and “how to merge the info when two team members make changes on their own copies”! Using a CRM will put an end to these and many other issues by providing a single source of information which is always up-to-date.
2- Keeping track of all customer interactions:
It would be extremely complicated and inconvenient to have the track history of all interactions with every single customer kept in an Excel file: you would either need to create a sheet per client or to simply add details in a comment cell in front of each client. CRM however allows you to keep complete track record of all customer interactions such as meetings, emails, quotes, phone calls, and easily access these track records.
3- Integration with Email
One of the main methods of communicating with the clients is through emails. In non-CRM solutions, most of most critical information would be not in the Excel files but in emails of individuals interacting with each customer. Other team members usually have no insight on these very valuable historic information and even worse, when an employee leaves – these valuable information are also usually lost or would be very hard to retrieve. In a properly setup CRM, email communication with each client is done through the CRM and kept as part of the tracking of that customer. Hence it would be very easy for anyone else within the company to have access to all these very valuable information.
4- Reporting features
Although Microsoft Excel also has many powerful reporting and data summarizing features, CRM is extremely powerful in this regard. Multiple tabular, summarized, or chart reports can be automatically created and even shared with company management through automatic emails. Many CRMs also provide data analysis reports which would provide incredibly useful tool for company’s success.
5- Multiple levels of accessing the data
It is very common that you would want to provide different levels of information about each client for each level in your organization. In non-CRM solutions, that would mean creating multiple copies of the same info in different Excel files which would be extremely inefficient and time consuming. Such configuration can be easily done in a CRM.
By automating workflows and most common tasks in a CRM, you can save immense time and money – this is probably the most important benefit of starting using a CRM solution which you would better realize when you start using it.
Challenges of Setting up CRMs
Setting up CRMs can be quite challenging if you try to do it on your own. It would need a combination of technical and business expertise and companies who try to do it themselves usually fail because of depending on someone who simply is not qualified.
To have a successful CRM solution, it is highly recommended that you do this through a consulting company who can:
- Analyze your business needs
- Propose the best CRM solution among hundreds of different available solutions
- Tailor the CRM to your specific business needs
- Transfer the old data to the CRM
- Most importantly, mentor your staff to effectively use CRM in their daily work