Sep 26, 2014
What is a CRM?
A CRM is a Contact Management System that uses a database to house data and reports on all facets of your collected customer information. It’s essentially a turbo-boosted contact database but these days it can be much more than that when you integrate your CRM with your website.
The Best Websites Capture and Explore Data
Often, organizations design websites with the sole focus on design, but that doesn’t take into consideration your existing customers. A CRM and a website work together by bringing existing offline or cloud based customer information into the websites functionality that merge to becomes the portal to your organization. The outcome being more than the sum of its parts. By accessing and retaining customer current accounts, websites are part of the customer retention and satisfaction process. Its just great customer service to be able to synchronize their account information in one place even when they are accessing the two different systems. For example membership information is often maintained and managed using a CRM whereas the website member login pages are run on the website CMS however synchronizing the two is a fairly simple procedure with today’s technology. Don’t build a member site without integrating your CRM and if you don’t have a CRM then a enterprise type CMS can manage some of the more rudimentary Member/Customer profiles.
There are countless CRM systems on the market today and some are industry specific. Here are just a few that associations use to manage their members data both online and offline.
Some Popular CRM Solutions
iMIS by ASI is geared to Associations and Non-profits and offers a few product and pricing models.
Microsoft Dynamics is a popular enterprise CRM that is highly customizable and scalable.
Microsoft SharePoint can also work as CRM when organizations use it to house customer data
Salesforce is a very popular hosted CRM focusing on the Marketing and Sales process
Membee is an association member management hosted system that works well with small to medium sized groups
SugarCRM is in the same space as Salesforce focusing on sales and marketing relationships
Custom database is also an option for membership organizations that have very specific needs that aren’t met with off the shelf CRM’s.
Choosing the Best CRM Software
It's important to keep in mind that choosing the right CRM software often comes down to the type of organization and the features that are needed the most. There are many blogs and lists that highlight the top products for certain groups or for those who only require a basic contact management solution that can eventually grow into more.
Top Reasons to Integrate
1. Don’t miss important data from one system to the other.
2. Provide better customer service with seamless cross platform logins with single sign-on.
3. Centralize the collection and administration of customer data.
4. Password management in one place.
5. Single profile management, registration and renewals.
6. Sharing the total function load as each does what it is best at.
Without getting too technical there are variety of ways that a website can connect with your CRM. Depending on the level integration and CRM solution you can simply and securely pass values behind the scenes to validate members and share member information. Most modern CRM’s have integration documentation that go along with a web service or in a situation where the CRM is a custom database we can connect directly to the database and access what data is required using standard SQL.
Don’t let the information you collect from your website sit off in a corner by itself and don’t let your website ignore your CRM. There is a wealth of details that your website can pull from your CRM and push too so both systems stay current and relevant without any extra work. Your website users and customers will appreciate it.
About the Author
Tony Tullio is a veteran in the interactive business and Director/Founder at Inorbital and always looking for great web apps and useful websites. Let us know what you think about this topic by commenting or rating or connect with him via Twitter