What is a CRM System and What Can It Do for Small Businesses?

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For those who don’t know and want to know what a CRM system is, the acronym stands for customer relationship management. A CRM system is software that automates and speeds up many mundane processes.

If you want to know more about it in general and the benefits it can bring before diving into today’s content, be sure to check out our article, 15 Reasons Your Small Business Needs CRM.

Recently, Small Business in: 15 where traveled to Austin, Texas for Zoho Day 2022 to learn more about CRM software and how small businesses can successfully use it to take them to the next level.

What does a CRM do?

In this two-part interview, Shawn Hessinger, Executive Editor of Small Biz Trends, first talks with Dilip Nagarajan, Product Manager at Zoho CRM, about what CRM does and why your business needs it.

Shawn: What does a CRM do? Why do you need it?

Dilip: A CRM increases productivity and increases the value you are giving to the customer. So it is something that saves you time and money. A CRM system offers many ways to do this.

Take any mundane activity you have, for example. A CRM can reduce human intervention through automation. Then the activities can be accelerated and the relationship is much better.

Shawn: CRM programs aren’t that difficult for the average person to manage, right?

Dilip: You can tell small business owners that we are getting rid of most of the mundane tasks, variables, lists, etc. which they track in Excel spreadsheets. For example, the list of customers that they are tracking and who they interact with during their daily activities, for example, their customer list, etc., these kinds of things can be handled by the software instead.

We tell them that the transformation from spreadsheet to CRM can also happen in a short time, and that they don’t have much of a learning curve; they can only go in and get in touch with who they need to keep in touch with. All these things are now much simpler and faster to do with CRM.

How a CRM system helps your business grow

Next, we spoke to Vibhav Vankayala, Head of Product Marketing at Zoho CRM, about how CRM helps your business manage customers while scaling.

Shawn: How does CRM help you manage your relationship with your customers? I mean, it’s one thing to say it, but how does one do it?

Vibhav: The first is that when you are a very small company, you don’t have many customers. In these cases, you know their names. However, as you grow older, this becomes more difficult to do.

To improve overall efficiency, you need to have a system in place to remember all these customers, as well as know who wants what, what they think, etc. So underneath, obviously, there’s a lot going on with the client, such as:

    • What are your preferences?
    • What would they like?
    • When do they want you to arrive?
    • What are the products they want?

This is where automation through CRM comes in. In fact, having the ability to send an email at the most appropriate time for the customer and individually for each of them is part of the beauty of having this type of system.

So these are some of the points that aren’t obvious, but once you start taking a few steps, once you start exploring, it’s pretty soon like “how did I do without a CRM?”

Shawn: I want to dig into that, especially for small businesses, maybe as small as a solpreneur or something. The alternative is to track all your customers, remember all that, keep it all down, and then maybe they’re in different time zones and different, whatever. When you email, did you remember to email this guy? Did you remember to contact him again after a month when he told you to contact him again? How does CRM specifically smooth this out? Imagine I have 200 customers in three different time zones. With a CRM, I can program the system to track these guys. But how?

Vibhav: The first is that if the action is initiated by you as a company, for example, a couple of days in the Black Friday sales, and that’s what we have. So, first, you have three different time zones in three different countries. Therefore, the product catalog in the UK may look slightly different than in the US

Also, it’s not just the states. We are analyzing different types of content, which are automated to go out at those respective times. There is another angle: Can this action be initiated by a previous customer in action? If they have come to your website, now is possibly the right time to activate that email.

And if they’ve spent more than a few minutes on your website. Maybe ask politely what they are waiting for without bothering? Say through the chat agent that should be with them, “You’ve been on our website for a few minutes… maybe you can’t find what you’re looking for… can I help?” Otherwise, the entire journey would be completely opaque to the business owner. So that’s an example, especially with digital businesses.

Shawn: You said something interesting there that I just thought about, which is that if the relationship is initiated by the business owner, that it really could also be initiated by the customer. It can also be based on what they’re looking at or if they’ve asked for something. Can you talk a little bit about that, how CRM helps you with the relationship that the customer wants to start?

Vibhav: This boils down to the core of CRM, which is to give the customer what they want. Now, understanding what they want when they tell you is one thing, but understanding what they want before they tell you is even better. And when you understand that and its intent, you can process it and deliver it.

So it could be simple signals like spending a few minutes on your website or dialing your toll-free number. Also, they would have gone to your pricing page specifically or maybe added something specific to their cart.

Now, all these actions, each of them says something. What is important is to understand what each of these actions say and secondly to make a preemptive move. And you do it before they ask you. And when you do that, they won’t look at the competition because no one knows them better than you.

Join us for the rest of the episode: What does a CRM do?

Be sure to check out the rest of the episode where we talk about everything a CRM system can do for your business. **Spoilers** It can help you a lot.

In the meantime, the biggest takeaway here is that CRM software can help automate your customer relationships, saving you time and money as your customer list grows.

If you enjoyed learning about CRM systems and want to learn more about the tools to scale your business, be sure to watch Small Biz Trend’s informative video Using Heat Maps to Build Your Business.

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