By Rhonda Campbell
Customer relationship management (CRM) has been a key part of small business success since the beginning. Over the last several years, changes impacting CRM have come, in large part, due to the expansion of the Internet. What was once managed in-house, is now offered virtually through online marketing firms. What hasn’t changed is the driver behind CRM, namely the goal to develop and maintain rewarding relationships with customers.
Vendor Partners Focused on Improving Customer Relationships
Companies offering online customer relationship management services or customer relationship manager software provide different types of support to small business owners. They also offer different levels of support packaging. For example, it’s possible to get automated sales, customer service and marketing support to fulfill customer relationship needs. Sub-level services included under sales, customer service and marketing are account management, incident tracking and email marketing.
SQL reporting, forecasting, workflow management, cloud computing and marketing campaign customer relationship management support is also available. As with other small business customer relationship advice services, the type of support your small business may need depends on your business objectives. For example, if you’re looking to grow your online customer base, you might want to work with a company that is experienced at using social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to generate new customers.
If you contract with a company to provide you this service, make sure you get client referrals. Also, make sure you interview staff at the company to ensure the online customer relationship management firm has a good track record for gaining new customers in your specific industry. After all, it might not do you much good to contract with a firm that only knows how to pull in new hardware customers if you’re a bookseller.
To get a bird’s eye view of what goes into online customer relationship management services or customer relationship manager software, check out Microsoft Dynamics CRM. They offer a free 30-day trial. Marketing campaigns, social networking and tools to protect customer privacy and records are types of services offered through Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Before you start working with Microsoft or another firm, consider test driving CRM tools. Also, check to see if the companies offer small business owners opportunities to watch educational webcasts and videos free of charge. This way you could expand your knowledge without having to shell out more money.
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http://crm.dynamics.com/en-us/home (Microsoft Corporation: Microsoft Dynamics Customer Relationship Management)