Many business owners are using outdated systems to track their customers — spreadsheets, an email list, notes on a phone, a Google Doc or a couple of Post-It notes on a desk. But, these aren’t likely to get you far when trying to understand your customer and how they interact with your business. Smart business owners are closing out of Excel and leveraging the power of customer relationship management (CRM) software.

We gathered insight from small business owners on some of the top-rated CRMs featured on software reviews sites such as G2 Crowd. But first, a primer on CRM — what it is and how it can help your business:

Small Business CRM Insights

CRMs allow you to track your customers, leads and prospects and all of their associated data. This data can include messages and conversations with this customer from anyone within your company. Today, the biggest and best CRMs are located in the cloud, so anyone within your company can access and record data in one place.

CRM software allows you to focus on the best part of the three letter acronym: the R for relationship. Maintaining positive relationships with your customers is the secret sauce to getting clients to stick around and spend money. According to the 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report, 62 percent of global consumers have stopped doing business with a brand or organization due to a poor customer service experience. CRMs can help ensure your customers have a positive experience with your business, every time.

CRM Features

CRMs can be a hefty investment for your business. When making a decision on the CRM system that will best fit your needs, it is important to remember that CRM software has a lot of the same product features, and differentiators can be price, customer service and integrations.

Here are some of the features you should expect from a CRM:

  • Sales team automation and tracking
  • Opportunity & pipeline management
  • Task & activity management
  • Lead management
  • Customer support/call center integration
  • Marketing automation
  • Social media integration
  • User/role & access management
  • Reporting & analytics dashboard

 

There are a lot of choices when it comes to CRM systems that work well for small businesses. In part 2 of this article, we will be providing some insight from small business owners that have used these systems to help give you a leg up when vetting which CRM is best for your needs.