I am often being asked, “What does CRM stand for” and “what is a CRM system”? Really though, a more apt question would be, “should I choose off-the-shelf or custom CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Software”? I say this because CRM (also called Client Relationship Management) software has already shaped and revolutionised most core business functions for the better in recent years, likely including many of yours. However, the migration to their use is often (and ideally) so natural and organic that you probably didn’t stop to notice it happening.
…you may not even realise how many CRM systems you already useLaneways.Agency Founder, Jerome Rault
CRM systems achieve this mostly by helping to better manage client information and sales processes. Also, they will often serve a key role in connecting disparate resources across departments and teams. For most companies, customer relationship management forms the absolute lifeblood of their business and CRM systems are the new breed of technology that your company manages that relationship through. In fact, you may not even realise how many CRM systems you already use.
So, to reiterate, CRM is a ‘broad church’ term covering many functions and tools. It’s an acronym for either ‘Customer Relationship Management’ or ‘Client Relationship Management’. However, most CRM systems will do some version of storing, tracking and sharing your customer data. I tend to break them down into 3 types and 2 sub-types:
Within the framework of these generic Operational CRM systems, Analytical CRM systems and Collaborative CRM systems, there are 2 sub-types I call ‘off-the-shelf’ and ‘custom or bespoke’:
Slack, now worth an estimated $15+ Billion, began life as an internal tool for during the development of Glitch, a defunct online game.Laneways.Agency Founder, Jerome Rault
If you need to do things with a CRM system that it does not do as part of its ‘core mission’, then you should consider building your own CRM. For example, if you just want a sales CRM then Pipedrive is effective and cheap. However, if you want to integrate your own functionalities then a custom system, designed just for you, may be better.
Are you partnered with a Software Company who are ethical, reputable and professionals?Laneways.Agency Founder, Jerome Rault
I say this not just because even hugely successful, ready-to-go CRM systems can be expensive and time consuming to customise. It’s also because they never (in my opinion) do what you need as effectively, once customised, as a bespoke CRM can. In fact, you usually end up with a whole new set of tools that you use for the different functions of the business, only they’re better at it than the last lot! Here’s some examples of what I mean:
At its very core, all CRM Software collects information and stores it in databases. When you think of Databases as similar to XL spreadsheets, it’s a pretty simple concept. Now that you have ‘XYZ’ information in the database, you can do what you want with it. Of course, for security, you need to make copies in case of emergencies, or ‘back ups’ of all your data, files, designs etc.
Historically, you had to have your own servers and a dedicated in house team to do all this. However, thanks to the advent of Application Service providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), creating and hosting your own CRM has become simpler and more affordable. For large institutions, they can manage this in house. For example, most of the banks and major institutions globally now use these services to manage most aspects of their digital presence. For smaller enterprises, it is usually better to partner with a reputable software development company.
Subject to a team or partner who is reliable, customer or bespoke CRM systems should be as reliable as any off-the-shelf system. There are 2 caveats here:
All the problems I come across are caused by bad planning, poor code or design, and other similarly fundamental mistakes. If you are experiencing these types of problems, change partners!
In summary, is custom CRM software worth it? Yes, absolutely! A custom CRM software is developed to fit your business like a glove. In addition to greater productivity and quality of life for your employees, Custom CRM often offers your business unique competitive advantages. Also, custom CRM can mean greater customer satisfaction. In fact, you can even integrate functions with them to streamline business functions. In the process, you can deepen your relationship and make competitors to your services and products far less attractive. Plus, you can generate business insights at a macro and micro level. If your aim is to grow your business beyond the norm, custom CRM is almost always more powerful and empowering than off the shelf.