Clients often tell us that they aren’t clear on the terminology and anachronisms used to describe CRM and that they often hear it referred to as a contact management system. The difference between contact management and customer relationship management (CRM) often confuses people.
They are very similar in concept but have some distinct characteristics that differentiate them. Let’s start by clearing up any confusion.
What is contact management?
Contact management is often a piece of your CRM strategy. In short, contact management is the practice of storing and organizing contact data so that it’s easy to access. It is what it sounds like, the process of managing contacts’ data.
What is CRM?
CRM is a much broader concept. At the core, it is the practice of managing and nurturing customer relationships.
While it’s a concept, it is primarily implemented through a CRM software solution. And CRM systems include built-in contact management capabilities. The key takeaway is that these days contact management is built into CRM systems. So, we can consider the benefits below to apply to both contact management and CRM software.
The top 10 benefits of contact management and CRM
1. Better, longer-lasting customer relationships
A core aspect of contact management and CRM software is that it allows you to store extensive amounts of data about each customer. This includes demographic data such as name, email, location, industry, age, gender, etc.
It also tracks and stores behavioral data such as when a customer opens an email, clicks an email, visits your website, downloads content, subscribes to your email list, etc.
With all this data, you maintain a much clearer picture of who each customer is, how they have interacted with your company in the past, issues they have faced, etc. This allows your team to get to know and interact with your customers in a more personal way.
They see you as human, not just an abstract entity that charges them for products or services. This results in closer relationships, customer loyalty, and builds trust among your customer base.
2. Deeper insight into your customers
As mentioned above, contact management and CRM software allows you to store loads of personal information about each customer. Over time, as you gradually accumulate more data about them, your understanding of who they are gets increasingly accurate.
You come to learn their unique, individual pain points, needs, challenges, interests, and a lot more. Armed with that kind of insight, your sales and customer support reps can enter a customer conversation with all the information they need to form a quick rapport.
3. Improved data management
When you store and manage your contact data in spreadsheets, you run the risk of human error in the data entry process. Plus, if a colleague needs specific contact data, you have to send them the spreadsheet or dig up the information they request and send that.
But when you have a CRM in place, all your contact data is stored in one central location and is accessible by all. A CRM solution removes the risk of human error because customer data is normally collected using web forms and is then automatically added to your database.
All your teams have a clear view of each customer because they are all using data from one central database.
And if you use an all-in-one CRM, all your marketing, sales, and customer support data is stored in that one database as well.
4. Increased productivity
Another great benefit of using a CRM is that it automates tons of manual processes, which increases the productivity of your team. Features like online appointment scheduling, which automates the entire scheduling process, dramatically increase productivity. Data entry is automated by using forms, as mentioned above. And so on.
Those are just two simple examples of processes that you can automate using contact management and CRM software. When you automate so many processes in this way, your team has more time to spend on higher-value tasks, such as devoting more attention to one-on-one customer interactions.
5. Contact management increases customer satisfaction
Because everyone in your company can see a full history of each contact’s interactions with your business and their personal data, they can more easily cater to each customer’s unique needs. This helps customers feel valued and sends the message that you are paying close attention to them and what they need to be successful.
Customer satisfaction is the key to successful revenue and business growth.
And these days it’s challenging to keep customers satisfied if you are not using contact management and CRM software to manage your interactions with them.
6. Reduced expenditures
With so many processes automated, you don’t need as many employees to man the ship. This leads to less money spent on salaries.
Moreover, if you use an all-in-one CRM that comes with built-in marketing, sales, and customer support automation, you don’t need to invest in separate systems to complete those functions. Everything is managed from the same system, saving you the cost of having to invest in multiple systems for various business functions.
Plus, effective use of contact management and CRM software enables you to reach more leads and close more deals with less effort. This translates to increased revenue. In fact, the average return on investment for companies that use CRM software is around $5 to every $1 invested.
7. The ability to personalize customer interactions
Personalized customer and prospect interactions help you communicate in a more relevant way that resonates with them. This is especially true with personalization in marketing.
With all that personal data stored on each customer and prospect, you can prepare yourself for a call by looking through their interaction history and demographic data. Then you can touch on things that you know interest them, which increases engagement levels.
Plus, customer support reps can maintain a view into the issues each customer has faced in the past. This allows them to gain an understanding of the customer’s use case, pain points, etc. before they speak to someone who submits a support ticket. They can then personalize their support to the specific needs of that customer.
8. Better alignment and collaboration across teams
Aligning your teams’ efforts can be challenging. This is particularly true with sales and marketing. Each team has its own agenda and often works in a silo without input or collaboration from the other side.
Contact management and CRM software bridge that gap. Everyone in the company has a 360-degree view of every customer and prospect interaction, all their personal data, etc. Because all teams are working with the same data from the same database, marketing has a view into what sales is doing, and vice versa.
For example, when you use an all-in-one CRM with built-in marketing automation, your marketing team can collaborate with sales on the development of a lead scoring model. Then they can work together to ensure marketing qualified leads are passed to sales as quickly as possible (this can be automated).
Also, with an all-in-one CRM, customer support data is attached to each person’s contact record in your database. That includes all past support tickets each customer has submitted. This gives sales reps insight into which problems each customer has experienced, which aligns the two teams’ efforts.
For example, let’s say a sales rep wants to reach out to an existing customer to pitch an upsell opportunity. They can check the customer’s contact record, open their support ticket history, and see if the customer is unhappy or experiencing an ongoing issue with your product. If they find that is the case, they can delay reaching out until the customer’s issue is resolved and they are satisfied once again.
9. Improved customer experience
The customer experience is an increasingly important element involved in satisfying customers and acquiring new ones. Studies estimate that by 2020 the customer experience will overtake product and price as the key brand differentiator. Today’s consumers expect attention and will pay more for a better customer experience.
Contact management and CRM software empower you to deliver a world-class customer experience. Personalized interactions—as mentioned above—improve the customer experience. Having all customer data at your fingertips helps you form closer customer relationships, which further improves the customer experience.
If you use an all-in-one CRM with built-in customer support capabilities, you can use features like dedicated help desk groups to improve the customer experience. Learn more about dedicated help desk groups.
These are just a few examples. The bottom line is that with your teams aligned, processes automated, and more time freed up to interact one-on-one with customers, you’ll deliver a better customer experience. That wouldn’t be possible without contact management and CRM software in place.
10. Insight into your results and data-driven decision making
Contact management and CRM software provide extensive CRM reporting, metrics, and analysis. You can keep your finger on the pulse of how your teams are doing, which lets you identify weak links in the chain so you can help them improve their performance.
With metrics like revenue predictions, sales funnel analysis, campaign performance metrics, etc., your company’s leaders can make data-driven decisions. The data does not lie and making strategic decisions about the future growth of your company is challenging without metrics to inform those decisions.
But when you have a CRM solution with a customizable dashboard that displays the metrics you need to see and can be accessed in a moment’s notice, making data-driven decisions is a breeze.
The key takeaways here are that using contact management and CRM software increases productivity, elevates collaboration, and raises customer satisfaction levels. All of that adds up to faster revenue and company growth.
If you are not using a CRM to manage your contact data and business processes, today is the time to start.
There are even free options available so implementing a CRM solution can be simple.