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By: Ricardo David Flores

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CRM Software Functions & Features

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software helps a company better serve its customers based on information-driven relationship marketing, which relies on building and nurturing relationships of mutual value with customers on top of the traditional 4-P marketing mix. CRM systems contribute to increase the company's bottom line by streamlining the relationships with customers through customer-centered processes, allowing the company to move from a mere transactional to an advanced relational business. CRM software offers 1,000+ features and functions to help the company manage customer relationships, create value for them, and optimize customer revenue lifecycle by, to name but a few features

  • managing sales opportunities
  • automating sales force
  • analyzing customer's behavior
  • predicting demand and sales to better plan production
  • assessing performance of marketing initiatives
  • eliminating waste of time and efforts chasing the wrong client
  • finding ideas to develop new products and services

Company executives, managers, and employees are always confused about what is CRM exactly and how CRM can help an organization. You probably are too, so no wonder why it would be a nightmare—not to say a failure—to try to come up on your own, from scratch, with the list of CRM requirements you need to evaluate and compare CRM systems available on the market, and then to identify the best CRM for your small-business or multinational company. You could also pay a CRM consultant to do it but it will still cost you time and money. Or you can merely buy the CRM software requirements template he uses, project after project.

Want to speed up the CRM requirements gathering process and select the best CRM software for your small-business, national or international company the right way?

So download the comprehensive list of functions and features for CRM.

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WHAT IS CRM SOFTWARE?


The research firm Gartner defines a CRM system as an application that helps define, execute, and monitor "a business strategy that optimizes revenue and profitability while promoting customer satisfaction and loyalty. CRM technologies enable strategy, and identify and manage customer relationships, in person or virtually." CRM software covers operational end-to-end processes such as sales, marketing, customer service, and e-commerce.

The CRM software comparison report can save you up to 90% of the time you would have otherwise spent comparing all the CRM solutions from scratch.

The CRM Functions & Features comprise the following elements:

  • Analytics and Reporting 3 function and features

    Service, repair, and obsolescence are where the "buck stops" in business. All the engineering and product errors, demand product mismatch errors and just plain customer responsiveness errors, keep customer support organizations hopping. Therefore the service planning system is a wealth of information for many organizations who are accountable for product planning and design, asset and capital management, and general customer relationship management. Therefore analytics and reporting features are not just designed to enable functional excellence, but also to feed these other key areas of the value chain. Analytics and Reporting, CRM Functions & Features
  • Customer Service and Support 6 function and features

    Main modules covered Escalating Unresolved Cases;Solving and Closing Cases;Assigning Cases;Creating and Maintaining a Solutions Knowledge Base;Customer Self-Service Portal;Creating New Cases (Service Requests);. Customer Service and Support, CRM Functions & Features
  • Extended CRM 5 function and features

    This covers Internationalization;Document Management;E-Mail Response Management;Workflow;Industry Vertical Module Availability;. Extended CRM, CRM Functions & Features
  • Product Technology 5 function and features

    This group of criteria defines the technical architecture of the product as well as the technological environment in which the product can run successfully. Criteria include product and application architecture, software usability and administration, platform and database support, application standards support, communications and protocol support and integration capabilities. Relative to the other evaluation criteria, best practice selections place a lower relative importance on the product technology criterion. This apparently lower importance is deceptive because the product technology usually houses the majority of the selecting organization's mandatory criteria, which generally include server, client, protocol and database support, application scalability, and other architectural capabilities. The definition of mandatory criteria within this set often allows the client to quickly narrow the long list of potential vendors to a short list of applicable solutions that pass muster relative to the most basic mandatory selection criteria. Product Technology, CRM Functions & Features
  • Marketing Automation 6 function and features

    Feature and functions covered Collateral and Brand Management;Marketing Resource Management;Lead and List Management;Campaign Management;Campaign Execution and Management;Campaign Planning;. Marketing Automation, CRM Functions & Features
  • Sales Force Automation 12 function and features

    Functionality below covers Account and Contact Management;Contract Management and Creation;Project and Team Management;Sales Process Management;Quotes and Proposals;Territory Management, Team Selling, and Member Reassignment;. Sales Force Automation, CRM Functions & Features

BENEFITS OF CRM FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES

 

The list of functions and features for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software allows you to easily generate the different elements of the Request for Proposal (RFP) you will send to CRM vendors to solicit a proposal:

  • the business, functional, and technical CRM requirements you will layer in the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) as part of the Statement of Work (SOW)
  • the weighted CRM evaluation criteria you will used to evaluate and compare CRM proposals, and then select the best CRM system for your needs

The list of CRM requirements will also help you build decision-support tools that rationalize hence facilitate your decision-making process:

  • the CRM compliance matrix that will allow you to deem a CRM vendor responsible and a CRM proposal responsive
  • the CRM decision matrix that will help you identify and select the best CRM system

CRM software functions and features are used in the WBS to

  • delineate the scope of work, namely the implementation of CRM best practices as the business processes underlying strategy development, value creation, multi-channel integration, information management, and performance assessment
  • make sure CRM vendors and their customer communicate on the same grounds for the sake of the project success and avoid finger pointing in case of issues
  • track and report the implementation progress to the CRM acquisition project stakeholders
  • be used as an insight at each step of the CRM software selection process

BENEFITS OF CRM SYSTEMS

 

The main benefits, motivations, and justifications of acquiring a CRM system are:

  • growing the customer base—improving customer
  • knowing customers better—improving customer segmentation
  • serving customers better—improving customer satisfaction
  • retaining customers better—improving customer lifetime value

It is also worth noting that CRM software can help the company

  • rethink its strategic vision of approaching and serving customers
  • understand the nature of customer value in a multi-channel environment
  • gather, centralize, and disseminate actionable customer information all over the company
  • tap into and replace data silos built in customer-facing departments
  • improve the quality and maturity of operations, fulfillment, and service processes in order to implement or comply with process improvement approaches, frameworks, and standards like Quality Management (PDCA, 6-Sigma), Agility, Lean, CObIT, CMMI, and ISO-IEC (9000 Series and 15504)

Those typical benefits of CRM systems usually impact positively such key financial performance indicators as the balance sheet, income statement, financial ratios, and stock price.

The implementation of an CRM system provides also such intangible effects as more efficiency, more collaboration, more information, and an improved customer experience.

HOW TO SELECT CRM SOFTWARE

 

Selecting CRM software is a decision-making process of several steps. First, the decision maker needs to identify the ins and outs of the business problem to be solved. Once the problem circumscribed, the decision maker builds the space of potential CRM solutions, evaluates the capability of each CRM solution to address the problem, then compares them side-by-side to finally identify the CRM solution that best addresses the problem.

Herbert A. Simon (1916-2001), a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and recipient of the 1978 Nobel Prize in Economics, has formalized this process by inferring it from his studies of how decisions were made in business organizations:

Simon's IDC decision-making framework provides high-level but robust and widely-adopted best practices for acquiring CRM software.

The rational decision-making process applied to CRM software selection thus becomes:

Intelligence: What Is The Problem?


The first step of Simon's IDC rational decision-making process consists of identifying the problem that is at the root of the decision to buy, replace, or upgrade an CRM system.

To do so, obtain clear information about the organization's current business processes and problems related to them. Then devise processes the way you would them to work. Based on that information, perform a gap analysis between both current and desired processes, which will allow you to create a list of CRM software requirements (CRM functions and features). Finally, weigh the identified CRM software requirements based on your organization's strategic, business, functional, and technical priorities (from not relevant to critical)
 

At this first step do not hesitate to use an CRM RFP template, it helps you speed up significantly the lengthy process of building that list of CRM software requirements. The CRM RFP template is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet featuring multiple levels of evaluation and decision criteria.

Download the CRM RFP Template Now!

Design: What Are The Different CRM Solutions?


The second step of Simon's IDC rational decision-making process consists of building the space of CRM solutions. Only CRM software solutions that are deemed responsive enough in regard to the CRM software requirements specification devised in step 1 will be part of your CRM solutions space.

To do so, identify potential CRM software vendors and their solution by using the list of CRM software vendors in the CRM Software Comparison Report that was already built by our CRM consultants and CRM analysts using TEC Advisor, our online Decision-Support System (DSS). You may also complement it with CRM software vendors you are already aware of or met at an CRM trade show.

Then determine which CRM software vendors are likely to provide a solution by meeting the CRM software requirements specification developed in step 1.

Finally, disregard all CRM solutions which ratings don't meet the priority threshold you assigned to criteria that you deemed critical. The remaining solutions will constitute your shortlist of CRM software solutions. You usually end up with a "Top 10 CRM Systems" or "Top 3 CRM Systems" depending of the complexity of your acquisition project.
 

Using at this 2nd step an CRM software comparison report helps you speed up significantly the complex process of evaluating, rating, and comparing CRM software solutions. The CRM software comparison report is a table featuring side-by-side CRM solutions of your choice against your CRM software requirements.

Download the CRM Software Comparison Report Now!

Choice: What Is The Best CRM Solution?


The third and last step of Simon's IDC rational decision-making process consists of identifying the solution that bests fit your business, functional, and technical needs set forth in the CRM software requirement specification.

To do so, compare shortlisted CRM software solutions side-by-side by identifying all the differences between shortlisted CRM solutions in terms of coverage of your needs and based on your priorities. This is a very complex task that is not humanly manageable because of the high number of evaluation criteria to take into consideration amplified by the number of CRM solutions considered.

To help decision makers select the best CRM solution, Decision-Support Systems (DSS) like TEC Advisor assist buyers in seeking the CRM solution that maximizes the expected utility (UE). Such tools use advanced mathematical analysis based on what-if scenarii and sensitivity analysis, to name but a few techniques.

 

This 3rd and last step is the trickiest because you have to make a decision based on a process that is not humanly manageable because of so many solutions to take into account against so many decision criteria. There are also so many issues at stake: time, money, risks, and your own seat as the decision maker!

So a Decision-Support System (DSS) like TEC Advisor is here to help you speed up the decision cycle, lower the global project cost, alleviate your pain, and secure your decision-maker position by handling the mathematical complexity of the decision and giving you all the tools necessary to make a rational, impartial, and traceable decision.

Use TEC Advisor To Select The Best ERP Software For Your Needs!

TEC Advisor can save you up to 90% of the time you would have otherwise spent figuring out on your own which CRM solution is the best for your needs.

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Functions and Features