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Customer Relationships: The Benefits of Using CRM Software for Startups

CRM

Are you in the process of bootstrapping a startup? Or, are you perhaps down the business growth and development road heading towards a mature SME? Are you using CRM software to manage your customers? What is Customer Relationship Management software? Here is: customer relationships — the benefits of using CRM software for startups.

At the outset of the article, it’s essential to note that the world as we know it will never be the same again. Hence, if customer relationships were meaningful before 2020, they are now critical.

“There is only one boss. The customer – and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.â€� – Sam Walton

By way of answering the “why� asked above, let’s take a brief look at the current global economic, health, and social circumstances.

The world as we know it: Setting the scene

News of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, broke towards the end of 2019 when China alerted the World Health Organization to the fact that it was dealing with a rapidly spreading viral infection on the unknown origin.

China first reported it as a “cluster of cases of pneumonia.â€� But, soon determined that it was caused by a new coronavirus. And, because of the fact that the world is a global village — the virus has spread around the world and continues to spread like wildfire.

The World Health Organization has stated, in conjunction with experienced medical personal and researchers, based on China’s experience that one of the only ways to prevent the virus’s person-to-person transmission is social isolation or social distancing.

Therefore, more than 50% of the world’s population is under some form of a lockdown or stay at home order.

We likely cannot imagine the far reaches of what COVID is doing to the global economy.

The world has moved into a recession that is predicted to be worse than the 1929 Great Recession. The World Economic Forum expects over 4 million people in the USA to file for unemployment benefits by the time this is over.

All non-essential businesses have been closed in most countries across the globe, and people have either been sent home or furloughed. And, all companies that have been able to pivot the processes and operations online have done so. Even with the reopening — slow in some places — and not slow enough in others — we are in trouble.

It is remarkable at this time in history that so many employees in companies — who have been sent home — are fortunate enough to be able to work remotely and at least keep business operations running.

Kimberly Amadeo noted in her article titled, “How does the 2020 stock market crash compare with others,� that the US 2020 stock market crash began on 9 March 2020, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost the most point in living history.

And, then it dropped again on 12 March 2020 and 16 March 2020, leaving it at an all-time low of 20.3% less than its 12 February 2020 high. Here we are in July — up and down.

Stock Market

The reason for these drops in the stock market is that there was, and continues to be, global panic about the rampant spread of the coronavirus and its devastating effects on the world’s population.

To date, there have been 11.5 million active infections — with more than 535,759 deaths. The infection and mortality rate is more deadly than the annual seasonal influenza that kills circa 0.01% of the global population annually.

The Stress

The emotional stress on the global population is being documented. The journal article published in the Brain, Behavior, and Immunity journal, titled “The emotional impact of COVID-19: From medical staff to common people,� notes the following:

“Infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19, as well as other public health events, can cause emotional distress and anxiety.�

The author, Nicola Montemurro, goes on to state that these feelings of distress and anxiety can occur in people who are not high-risk.

She also highlights the fact that “previous research has revealed a profound and wide spectrum of psychological impact that outbreaks can inflict on people.�

And, new “psychiatric symptoms in people without mental illness can occur or aggravate the condition of those with pre-existing mental illness.�

Thus, while the details of how to take care of yourself in these stressful and anxious times are not relevant to this discussion, it is essential to implement self-care measures to ensure that you survive these challenging global conditions.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Looking towards the future

The question that begs is, what does the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR or Industry 4.0) have to do with COVID-19 and surviving the economic, physical, and mental impact of the world we currently live?

This question is valid and deserves a considered answer.

Klaus Schwab, the founder, and chief executive officer of the World Economic Forum coined the phrase “The Fourth Industrial Revolution� in 2016. And, he had the following to say:

“We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another.�

Some of these technologies impacted by 4IR include Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, the Internet of Things (IoT), WIFI and networking, robotics, and autonomous vehicles.

Four years later, these technologies have indeed happened. However, the reason for the impact of this revolution is not technology-driven, but think — all this tech has offered a solution to people in lockdown.

We can communicate with family members and friends, seek medical help via apps like Zoom and Skype, and work remotely because of the high tech that allows us to link to work colleagues and clients across the globe.

Managing customer relationships

The good news is that within every crisis there is an opportunity. Albert Einstein acknowledged this with the following statement:

“In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.�

While acknowledging the stresses of the current global pandemic, it’s equally important to find opportunities in the midst of the crisis.

Let’s take this statement to heart and consider a simple case study that describes how to use CRM software (appvizer dot com, client relationship), to bootstrap and grow your startup into a robust business.

You want a business that has the ability to weather current financial storms and come out on the other side as a healthy, thriving company.

What is CRM software?

In order to utilize the full functionality of a CRM application, let us consider a succinct definition:

Wikipedia.com defines Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as an “approach to managing a company’s interaction with current and potential customers.â€�

A CRM is an end-to-end customer management methodology that combines the analysis of the company’s customer sales history to forecast trends and improve customer relationships.

Its fundamental aim is to help the company retain customers and drive sales growth. For, as the quotation by Sam Walton highlighted above states, the customer is boss. And, without customers, the business cannot exist.

CRM Management: A case study

Now that we have an understanding of the primary function of customer management and the core role it plays in running a successful business, let’s consider our case study:

Let’s assume for a moment — you own an online content marketing business known as Firecrab Words. Although you are an experienced content writer and have worked as a freelancer for several years now, you’ve decided that now is the right time to register a company.

You are now going to position your brand to take advantage of the increase in the potential for digital marketing opportunities when the global economy reboots itself.

Let’s also suppose you have completed all the business development documentation. You’ve included the necessary financial and business process models. You have cobbled together a website. You know your website is not great — but it is functional. It will do for now.

The only thing left to do, apart from marketing, is to find a system to manage your clients. You have existing clients that you need to move onto the CRM application.

And, you need to analyze historical data to forecast trends and patterns to determine how to improve your customer management model.

Choosing a CRM

There are a number of different CRM software applications available for you to choose from with different features and benefits. Therefore, the first step is to decide what features you need to successfully manage your customers and potential customers to leverage long-term, consistent sales growth.

Also, because it’s highly likely that you will have to pay a monthly or annual subscription fee, it’s doubly important to ensure that you choose the right fit for your startup.

Once you have decided which features you need, the next step is to consult an online CRM review site like Appvizer that states the benefits of each software application, and it provides a comparison between the apps whose benefits are listed.

As an aside, I used Appvizer to choose a CRM application for my eCommerce business that sells handmade items like bed quilts, clothing made from West African fabric, as well as leather bags and wallets.

However — it’s worth looking at a review site to determine which CRM application is the best for your own business requirements. Be sure to ask around a little — don’t go with the first one. Get some recommendations from someone who has used the service.

CRM: The benefits described as statistics

One of the best ways to describe the benefits of an application is to look at the numbers. Thus, let’s consider the following statistics (financesonline dot com – crm stats analysis of trends).

  •  The CRM market currently has a value of $120 billion (USD).
  • Its annual growth is forecast at 12% per year reaching 82% billion in 2025.
  •  A CRM system that is implemented correctly can yield a Return on Investment (ROI) of circa 45% on every dollar invested.
  • 48% of sales teams rely heavily on their CRM software to manage their clients and improve business operations.
  •  The CRM business model or customer relationship management is considered the most important aspect of a company next to lead generation and engagement.

These are just a few of the numerous CRM-related statistics available for consumption. However, they describe the value of implementing a CRM system to manage your clients and grow your business.

Customer relationship management as it applies to the case study

By way of explaining the essential CRM functionality, let’s consider each function within the case study stated above.

Contact management

One of the stated aims in the case study described above is to formalize your content marketing business processes, including the onboarding of existing clients. Therefore, contact management is a vital part of a successful CRM system.

What is contact management?

Concisely stated, contact management is essentially the addition or recording of customer contact details into the CRM system. Secondly, this aspect of the CRM tracks the interactions between the customer and the business, including emails sent, phone calls made, and purchases made by the customer.

Apart from keeping track of client-business interactions, this module has the capacity to generate statistical data that allows the business to improve customer relations; thereby, increasing sales figures.

Therefore, when considered in relation to the Firecrab Words case study, you need to enter all of your current client data into the CRM system. If you have historical sales figures and a record of all customer interactions, it is probably a good idea to add them to the new system as well.

Otherwise, you can start tracking customer interactions from the time you have onboarded all your existing clients.

Sales team management

Contact management and sales team management are two sides of the same coin. Both need to be tracked and managed. Without a sales team — you will not have any customers and without customers, you won’t need to hire a sales team.

At this juncture, it is important to note that because Firecrab Words is a startup, you, as the business owner are also the sales team.

What are the sales team and customer opportunity management?

As stated above, the interactions between the sales team and the customers are measured. It also measures the opportunities that the sales team has to convert visitors to your business’s online presence into returning customers.

The process is also known as lead scoring, and it identifies the clients that are most likely to convert.

Final thoughts

The importance of maintaining positive customer relationships cannot be underestimated For, without customers, the business will not make money, and therefore, cannot exist.

Consequently, it is essential to ensure that you not only maintain good relationships with your clients, but you constantly work at improving them.

In this manner, your business will grow from a small startup to a robust, stable business, capable of weathering all storms.

Image Credit:  emre keshavarz; Pexals

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Best 10 Business Management Apps

business management apps

Technology is GREAT — and it has changed the game. Tech has given us new ways to manage the businesses that are fine as they are — maybe — but it’s important to adapt. Now, managing the business workloads becomes efficient and less time-consuming. Here are ten of the best business management apps.

As a business owner, you have to complete many business operations at one time.

There are employee issues, payrolls, customer’s appointments, managing finances, marketing, and all that pop-ups. Indeed, you might be searching for new ways to streamline your business operations and to enhance productivity. Above all, to make your position in this competitive market.

The world is mobile.

Everyone likes to execute their tasks on mobile, it is because of the convenience factor it offers. Most of the companies have adopted agile working, which gives rise to mobile apps. It is the best tool that you can get to manage all of your important projects concurrently and can keep your business game on the top.

The market has many leading business management apps that are best to keep up the work efficiently.

These management apps permit the business team to share ideas, collaborate, and help in workload management. As a business owner, you can have an idea about your team activities and of course, their work status. While looking out for a business management app, consider the below measures:

  • Affordable.
  • Easy to use.
  • No commitment plans.
  • Can scale with your business.
  • Exceptional customer service if you need support.
  • It should have an immediate influence on investment.

So, after getting an outline of how these apps are important, know the best business management apps below.

Leading Business Management Apps you should know:

Streak

Qwaiting

Insightly

Salonist

Nimble

Zendesk Sell

Bitrix24

HRMWage

Salesforce

Freshsales

Leading Business Management Apps you should know

Qwaiting

Qwaiting allows you easy and effective management of queues and doesn’t allow your valuable customers to wait in the queue. As a leading business management app, it improves your business efficiency, profits, and thoroughly, changes the manner of handling the customers.

The Qwaiting apps don’t allow you to work manually and operate every necessary business activity by itself. From providing the ticket system, managing the customer details, employee management, appointment scheduling, sales funnel information, the screen with queue numbers, to provide real-time analytics, it covers everything.

Qwaiting allows the customers to follow the virtual queue online from the app, on-site kiosk, or from the mobile. It permits you to set up, manage, and configure the agent calendar and resource availability. With this app, you can easily check-in and manage the appointments. It provides notification to the customers about their turn and when they have to show their presence.

Also, from Qwaiting, you can have regular feedback from the customers. These reviews are quite helpful in giving you insights about where you are lagging and where the improvement is required. Accordingly, you can improve your marketing strategy.

Streak

Streak is a Content Relationship Management (CRM) app that offers everything that as a business owner you require. For those businesses who use Google and Gmail Apps, Streak is the best option. In addition to customer management, it allows you to track business analytics.

Like, in the case when you are just pitching or are about to crack one of the best deals, then, Streak enables you to check all the emails linked with every customer. Also, the newsfeed is there to update every team member about the current status of business analytics.

The streak has add-ons, from where you can integrate the appointments directly in the calendar to get more transparent experience. As the basic use of this app is meant for customer support, recruiting and sales, but, it can also be productive for everything from Fundraising to Project management.

We can say that, with Streaks, you can eradicate any possibility of time waste, and regular email drudgery with the mail merge and snippets. Manage the important emails and keep the tracking intact to communicate regularly with the customers.

Insightly

As a CRM app, Insightly incorporates many business management features that are the basic requirement of every business type. From this app, you can easily characterize the contact with tags, incorporate that with the social network profiles and then, manage the leads.

Insightly allows you to make the tasks for the team members, setting the pipelines and then track the status of the assigned tasks. Also, it sends email reminders to all-time to time. The app has an easily navigable and understandable user interface. For those who are new to it, will find it more engaging with the customer-oriented features. For the integrations, projects, and relationships, this app works best.

Salonist

As one of the best Salon apps, Salonist tops in the race. With the cloud-based ability, it allows all the Salon owners to streamline their daily operations without any hassles. It integrates all those features that are required to operate the Salon activities effectively. By allowing a Salonist to handle all of your work, you can utilize all of your productive time in generating more Salon productivity.

The synchronization of the calendar part with Outlook, Google calendar, and Apple, allows the customers to schedule, reschedule, and cancel their appointments easily. It includes email and SMS marketing, from where you can notify the customers regarding important events and activities.

Also, you can get the correct figure of your inventory from the report and analytics it provides. And, accordingly, you can refill your stocks and sell them continuously.

Nimble

For those businesses, who have a great social media presence, should choose Nimble. The Nimble app is a Content Management System that gathers the information of customers from their social media profiles. Then, it updates it all in the database and consequently, saves a lot of time of yours. Also, it examines the shared interests and combines that with Outlook, Hootsuite, and Gmail and with more services.

In addition, it examines the relationships you more valued and interacted with. And, accordingly, it offers more future opportunities with them. From Nimble, you can make quality relationships, nourish the customer relationships, approach faster and smarter, secure more deals, and work easily from the inbox. Give Nimble a try, it is worth spending the additional time.

Zendesk Sell

Zendesk Sell, a name behind customizing the sales pipeline effectively is deserving to be on this list. Primarily, it was termed as Base CRM. As all the leads cannot be created equal, so, this mobile app gives more priority to the leads and opportunities for your business.

Particularly, the Zendek Sell selects only those leads that are more important and worth spending time. It links that leads to the business first. The business management part allows you to centralize the attention to the deals and leads from the automated scoring rules from Zendesk Sell’s full-funnel analytics. Hence, those businesses whose aim is only to capture the leads can go with this app.

Bitrix24

Bitrix24 is here to give you the best experience for your potential customer and business. It provides a free version that at least 12 users can use with 12 gigs of storage space. At the next level, the pricing table is fair and incorporates the plans that are available for all businesses.

This content management system is quite broad and provides several customer management and collaboration tools. Sign up with this business management app and experience effective customer management, projects, customer support, tasks, eCommerce, and internal communication. Get this all-in-one business management tool if you really want to have beneficial results.

HRMWage

HRMWage is the preeminent business management and cloud-based human resource management app. It includes wage management, payroll management, and attendance tracking. This Human resource management tool makes every task feasible and streamlines every issue faced by HR’s for their day to day activities. The salary calculation, interviews of various job aspirants, leave management, employee performance tracking, and many more are covered.

You can easily track the employee details at any time with the management app. HRMwage also assures security and does not allow any data breach. It also eradicates the process of leaves whether it is a short day, half-day, or full-day, and makes the handling process easy.

The employee can apply for the leaves directly from the HRM only. Also, it allows easy tracking of employees and makes the hiring process smooth. From the right document management, HR can know which sessions or courses the employee can adapt to the company culture.

Salesforce

You must have come across the word, Salesforce, even if you have not known any CRM tools. It is one of the most utilized business management apps for small businesses, particularly. Salesforce incorporates every single feature on the dashboard itself. Now, you can sell all of the customer details in one place, this app gives you access to the database whenever it is required.

It offers great in-app assistance by providing access to several tutorials and guided set-ups. Salesforce holds the capability to include more business apps, also, this app offers you everything your business might require. This is how this management app keeps your business ahead from all the competitors.

Freshsales

Freshsales gives you a powerful CRM system, with an activity capture, Artificial Intelligence leads scoring, built-in phone, etc. Freshsales admits that it has 15,000 customers to assure it, customers, that they have a large and solid base.

It offers outstanding reviews with exceptional features, such as; sales leads, Built-In Phone & Email, Associated Conversions, Intuitive Sales Pipeline, etc. FreshSales has four economical plans that fit perfectly for all business sizes.

Concluding Remarks

Gone are the days when managing business is a tough or impossible task. Technology has given us many ways that you can adapt and streamline every business operation. Business management apps are one of the best ways to get ahead.

Choose an app that fits your business size, and watch how your streamlining efforts change your brand position in the market.

Image Credit: Lukas Rodriguez; Pexels

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