8 Important Features to Look for in a CRM Solution

When it comes to looking for a CRM solution, what you should really put your money on is the solution that your entire business will be able to use.

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Any organization that provides customer service or a team of employees that face customers need a powerful CRM solution. With today’s dynamic and hyper-connected work environment, engaging with customers is critical to any business’ success. In fact, a business that does not take advantage of a full CRM solution is missing out on a lot.

CRM software was originally designed to help businesses build and maintain relationships with their new and existing customers. Over the years, CRM solutions have grown from being simple contact management systems into valuable tools that let businesses manage sales, marketing, point-of-sale, accounting, and other types of operational data—all in one efficient and accessible solution.

Aside from the ability to help businesses find leads, follow up with prospects, and nurture them through the sales pipeline, CRM software can also store comprehensive customer profiles that allow businesses to delight customers with personalized experiences.

Are you looking to explore the benefits of CRM for your business? Here are important features to look for in a CRM solution:


  1. A robust management system

CRM software, at its core, should be able to give users easy access to information coming from different sources. Those tools that we tend to count on to store information, such as e-mail, mobile, and address books, are not sustainable solutions in the long run. CRM software serves as a database for all types of customer data, including contact information, purchase histories, web browsing activities, and brand interactions. This will be useful information to segment customers for marketing purposes.


  1. Efficient to use

Some forms of technology require training prior to usage. Some are so complicated that they aren’t worth the time and monetary investment, especially for small businesses. A clean, simple, and efficient user interface that is easy to learn saves your organization from getting frustrated. Be sure to test the tool or ask for a demo to get a feel of how it works and  to know whether or not it suits your needs.


  1. Highly customizable

No one-size-fits-all CRM solution exists. A good CRM investment should be able to encompass all areas that are relevant to your customer-related activities. Thus, it is important to choose a CRM solution that you can customize according to your business requirements. For instance, some vendors offer off-the-shelf products with a set of features, whereas some let you select only the features your business requires. Customization can also take the form of expanding capabilities using extensions, plugins, themes, templates and add-ons to completely tailor the software to your business.


  1. Niche-based

If your business deals with a specialized industry or niche, make sure to invest in a CRM solution designed specifically for your type of business. For instance, working in finance means investing in  CRM software that complies with transparency and financial regulations. Other CRM solutions are made for restaurants, retailers or real estate.


Find out if there are CRM systems that are tailored to your kind of business.
Find out if there are CRM systems that are tailored to your kind of business. (Source: Istock)


  1. Cloud-based (or not!)

Cloud-based CRM solutions allow you to store CRM data and run applications in the cloud, thereby saving you on management and storage requirements that you would normally worry about when you have an on-premise or installed CRM system. Another advantage of cloud-based deployment is the ability to scale freely as you grow your business. On the other hand, on-premise CRM can offer you maximum security over your proprietary data since everything is hosted in-house. Try to ascertain which deployment route you should take for your business.


  1. Mobile access

Keep your CRM data within reach by choosing a solution that allows access via mobile devices. Your salespeople will enjoy the ease of entering notes and customer information when they can tap into your CRM system from their smartphones. Look for those that have their own mobile apps or those that can be accessed using a mobile web browser.


  1. Security

CRM software will easily become the core of your operations. Your CRM software should have stringent security measures to prevent cyber attacks and data loss, as well as provide a means to access your data in the event of an outage or cyber attack.


  1. Top-of-the-line technology

The capital expenditure on CRM software is a crucial part of the decision to invest in one, especially when resources are finite. Thus, it is critical to have buy-in on the level of investment that your business is ready to make with your new CRM system. Often, the bigger initial expense will return far greater ROI in the long run.


Strike a balance between high technology and usability.
Strike a balance between high technology and usability. (Source: Istock)


The bottom line is that there are a lot of CRM systems in the marketplace, each with its own features and capabilities to extend their matrix. After looking at all the CRM options, what you should really put your money on is the solution that your entire business will be able to use. The most sophisticated and complex tools are useless if employees won’t be able to operate them. It would be wise to invite a consultant—preferably one that has expertise in a top-notch CRM system–to join in the discussion.