How Effective is Your Hosted-CRM Provider?

How Effective is Your Hosted-CRM Provider?

Issue

When a company chooses a hosted-CRM solution, a layer of complexity disappears from the CRM process, allowing employers to focus on running the business. However, CRM users surrender control of valuable customer data to a third-party vendor. CRM software vendors certainly have a stake in keeping customers happy because they live and die by subscription-renewal rates. But at the end of the day, how does one monitor the effectiveness of a hosted-CRM provider? A few industry experts offered their advice.

Considerations

Is the system working? When it comes to a hosted system, users want to have confidence that the system is going to be there when they log in. An unreliable CRM system software means a vendor is not delivering on its promises.

"The fundamental question is, 'Is the system working?'" said Clarence So, CMO at Salesforce.com. To find answers to their hosted-system questions, Salesforce.com customers can go to a special site that helps users monitor system performance.

The system's current status, as reported by Salesforce.com, is revealed simply by clicking System Status on the site. This is also a good place to start if your provider has a similar online monitor.

  • Is the system accurately reflecting the reality of your sales?
  • When printing out a report, figures can sometimes appear unbelievable and unreliable.
  • Are the top 20 customers actually the company's top 20 customers?

This information can be checked against information maintained in the company's finance software. If this cross-check verifies the figures, you can be confident that the system accurately tracks information in its reports and dashboards. If there is a discrepancy, your CRM software solutions — and the system — aren’t doing their job.

  • Is the system fast enough?

Another issue with hosted-CRM providers is speed. If the system is running slowly, users will not be able to get the needed information quickly enough. Since that tends to annoy customers, said So is in the provider's best interest to keep its clientele happy and the system running at a decent clip. If you have persistent performance problems, it may be time to consider a new provider.

  • Are your core sales metrics improving?

One way to measure the effectiveness of a CRM provider is to assess key sales metrics, and compare CRM software and CRM ratings, said Frank Lee, president of Workopia and a Microsoft Dynamics MVP (Most Valuable Professional). According to Lee, CRM users have to consider whether they have more customers, more customer orders, or if they are generating a greater profit from each sale after using CRM solutions. He also recommended analyzing new customer data and whether the company understands its customers better. If it seems that your company has a better handle on customer information and is acquiring more sales, the Customer Manager Software is doing its job.

  • Is your staff using the system?

A CRM system will not be effective if staff ignore it. One way to measure the system's success is to ensure that employees use it. "The most important question is, 'Are end-users actually using the CRM system and incorporating it into their daily practice because it benefits them and not just management?'" Lee said.

How to choose effective hosted-CRM software?

A customer relationship management software system encompasses multiple tools and features that store and process customer data. Following are the top most important things you should consider while choosing CRM solutions:

Understand your business requirements – you should be very clear about your business needs and goals. Every business is different, and thus there's a difference between adopting a strategy to capture customer data. Several tools offer this function. CRM software is mandatory for enhancing revenues and managing relationships.

It helps as the best support for marketing and sales. It helps in quickly scaling your business. If you are a startup, using a CRM is a brilliant idea. However, if you're already prospering, you should add CEM (customer experience management) software as a favor to yourself.


Customer management software is the appropriate option for your business needs. It can help businesses dealing with the following problems:

  • Struggling with tracking or finding customer data
  • An inability to retain or create loyal customers
  • An extended sales cycle
  • Trouble managing agent schedules
  • Bad customer communication


You may encounter other customer acquisition challenges, but these bullet points provide a beginning point for what features advantages, and CRM tools you'll need.

Pick out on-premise or cloud


On-premise and cloud-based software CRM deployment both have their pros and cons.

With the most advanced software, you want a way to connect to and from the internet to your server. Your server stores and protects your customer data.

All CRM software either connects to in-house or cloud-based servers. In a cloud-based CRM solution, you just sign up for a subscription and log in whenever you want to access your client's data or store it. But you have to stay online all the time to use this CRM system software.

For the on-premise server, the CRM software is hosted physically on your business location, providing you access to the server. On-premise CRM solutions are perfect for businesses that want to improve their software security and customer application integration and eliminate subscription charges.

Understand the different types of CRM software


No CRM solution is a one-size-fits-all, while most businesses use "Operational CRM." You'll find these three types of CRM in the marketplace:

  • Operational CRM: Centralized platforms use them for customer support automation and sales and marketing to capture and store data. They're believed best for businesses that require all-in-one CRM solutions.
  • Analytical CRM: specifically designed to process and analyze customer data by using pattern recognition and data mining to get insight into buyer behavior. They're best for businesses that want to make accurate and targeted marketing offers.
  • Collaborative CRM: this CRM software links and shares customer data with internal and external stakeholders. They're the best CRM tools for large teams and have good budgets. 

CRM software comparison is the best way to determine which software can perform best in your company to meet your business goals. To compare CRM systems, you can visit the websites of CRM software providers and read their features, reviews, and testimonials. CRM tool comparison should also involve comparing pricing plans and features offered for the free and paid software.

Recommendations

The fundamental issues with hosted-CRM systems are whether they work and whether the information they produce is accurate.

While an online-monitoring system like that offered by Salesforce.com can be useful to customers, Lee suggested that a need could arise for a third-party monitoring board (similar to those that monitor power utilities) to serve as an impartial watchdog for hosted-CRM customers. For now, though, use these tips to get started.