There's much talk about CRMs these days. For most, a CRM is a technology tool that large organizations implement since they have hundreds of thousands of customer records and they need an easier way to manage them. There's also the assumption that CRMs are very costly and require the expertise of technology experts to utilize them effectively. The truth is CRMs can be as complex or as simple as needed and can contain millions of records or just a handful. It's also true that some CRMs can be quite expensive but there are also very affordable ones, especially if you have a nonprofit organization, that will help you achieve the same goal: manage your contacts better.
So what's a CRM?
A customer relationship management tool, or CRM for short, is a system that captures your customers' or constituents' information in a database. This means it makes it easier for you to manage and retrieve your contacts' information, track your interactions, and build reports for better decision-making. It gives you a 360 view of your customers: you'll be able to see how they engage with your organization and understand what they consider to be really valuable to them. A CRM usually integrates or syncs data with other tech tools to give you even more visibility and automate your processes.
Top 5 Benefits of CRMs
1. Centralized data:
Instead of using multiple spreadsheets or documents to store new leads or manage existing contacts, you'll be able to get all of the information you need in one place. If your organization has different teams who may interact with the same contacts, a centralized database will break down silos and help you see how your contacts engage with the other teams. This, in turn, will help you make informed decisions as you interact with your contacts.
2. Streamlined operations:
Having your contacts information in a CRM database makes it easier to store, edit, and delete your data. It also gives you an opportunity to automate your workflows and integrate with different tools. This means that you'll be able to take advantage of features that will help you streamline your operations across different teams and information systems. In doing so, you'll effectively have a digital assistant helping you make the most of your database and optimizing your business worfklows.
3. Targeted engagement:
Imagine providing exactly what your customers want, at the right time, and for the right price. Well, that's exactly what a CRM can help you do. You can consolidate your contacts' information, identify patterns, build segments and cater to their needs more effectively. By engaging with different segments according to their needs, you essentially customize their experience and maximize the value of your services/products or programs.
Think of searching for a contact in a CRM like searching for a product by typing the item's name in the google search bar, filtering results by criteria you define, and getting the exact result you need but in a much shorter amount of time. Indeed CRMs help you do all of that. Investing in a CRM can save you many hours spent searching, entering, and updating records with just a few clicks so you can focus on what you do best.
Some organizations may have sensitive information in their database that only a subset of an orgnization should have access to. Thankfully most CRM databases are built with security features in mind so that you define who should have access to each record in your database. Depending on the solution you implement you may be able to determine exactly which record or field a user can see, edit, update or delete. There are usually solutions that also prevent unauthorized users from hacking into your database.
What type of CRM should I implement?
The answer to this question is not a straightforward one: it really depends on your unique needs and your budget. The most important factor would be to look at how you're currently capturing your contacts' information and determine what you like about the way your contacts are stored, identify areas that could be improved, and what could be automated. These questions will help you create a list of your requirements which will be the basis for comparing different CRM solutions. If you already have tech tools/software for other processes always keep in mind how you could integrate the new CRM with your existing software. And pricing-wise, some solutions provide significant discounts for nonprofits (including free licenses) so I'd highly recommend not to shy away from looking at large-scale CRM solutions.
If you're still not sure if you need a CRM, or if you would like some help identifying/implementing one, contact us and we'll be more than happy to work with you.
Questions for you:
What are the biggest benefits you've noticed from using a CRM? And if you don't have one, what are the reasons why you don't have one?