Why are cloud based Customer Relationship Management CRM systems so hot these days? In a nutshell, they offer the opportunity for a company to obtain a 360° degree view of their interactions with their customers.
What would that look like? For example: an inside sales person logs in a problem a key customer is having with a product, which triggers a work flow that automatically sends e-mails to the sales person for that territory and to the repair department who can initiate a return authorization. One action can drive a series of responses within your organization. Marketing people can mine data that in the past was only guessed at. Engineering can gather data on what is working and what is not.
Often CRM systems & software are looked at as a “Sales Tool”. Yes, they are a powerful sales tool and can create synergies throughout the whole organization. I recently heard a CFO of a $25 Mill Co. describe how this worked for them. They sold and serviced industrial elevators – lifts. Service records are needed for the annual inspection by every city. By using web-enabled iPads the Service Tech is able to log the parts used, hours spent and e-mail a bill to the customer and internally to accounting. This shaved 3 days plus off the “Normal” billing cycle. The parts used can now be re-ordered to keep the inventory where it needs to be. Here is an enterprise wide solution that just a few years ago was would have only been possible for very large companies.
The way Wal-Mart beat K-mart was by better inventory control. It cost them millions to get to the point where they generated orders before the shelves were empty. Yet a similar level of integration is available for a mere pittance on the cloud. It’s not just CRM it is a whole new way of doing business.