"CRM" stands for "Customer Relationship Management" and refers to all the strategies, methods, tools, and technologies that a business uses to develop, retain, and attract its customers. CRM is a special approach to business management, which puts the client in the center of the company's activity.
The main purpose of CRM strategy implementation is to create a single ecosystem for attracting new and developing existing clients. Relationship management means attracting new customers, converting neutral customers to loyal customers, and turning regular customers into business partners.
Just like a quality CRM system, documents are an important part of any business. Manual systems for managing them are more commonly used when a business is just entering the market. However, as the company grows, it can become quite burdensome. This affects an organization's financial management. So workflow automation has become a vital tool that can give a business an added advantage in any competitive market, increasing productivity and, ultimately, growing profits.
Who Needs CRM
The main advantage of a CRM system is that it can benefit almost any organizational unit - from sales and customer service to recruiting, marketing, and business development.
Keeping all customer information in one place, logging service issues, identifying sales opportunities, and managing marketing campaigns are just a few of the features offered by CRM.
Because CRM provides quick access to data, it becomes much easier for users to collaborate with each other. This results in resolved intra-team collaboration issues and increased productivity.
Another compelling argument in favor of CRM is that it is suitable for companies of all sizes and in all industries, it can be CRM for banks, large manufacturing firms, transportation organizations, distributors, telecommunications companies, government agencies and real estate agencies and many others.
How CRM Works
To understand how CRM works, we should consider the path of turning a regular customer into a lead. It all starts with interest formation and application for a certain product/service that the company provides, and ends with making a deal.
1. Channels to attract new clients
Organic search, online advertising, newsletters, media activities, and online events. A CRM system clearly identifies the main source and helps analyze the effectiveness of each channel. The system calculates not only the number of leads by channel but also their conversion into sales. The collected analytics will show which channels to enhance and which to disable.
2. New lead qualification and first contact
Communication via the built-in CRM telephony, messenger, or email. The system stores the entire history of interaction with a record of conversations for further analysis by a supervisor. The CRM system is based on the omnichannel principle - the integration of disparate communication channels into a single platform that provides maximum efficiency and continuous contact with clients.
3. Interaction strategy
The way you work with your customers depends on the type of sale ("short" or "long"). If the sale is short, e.g. an online store order, the system will help the manager to quickly place the order and hand it over to the delivery unit. If we are talking about corporate or long sales, divided into several stages that involve constant interaction, the client goes to the sales funnel.
4. Sales funnel built into CRM
One of the most effective tools for the daily work of the sales department. The tool allows you to divide the transaction into the necessary number of stages, build the tactics of interaction at each stage, determine the percentage of conversion (transition) from stage to stage, and evaluate the effectiveness of managers. From the sales plan's point of view, the funnel will show the volume of potential deals at the final stage, as well as the general indicators at the current moment.
5. Document workflow
When working with clients, at all the stages, CRM helps keep the document flow, issue invoices (based on templates), and send them to clients directly from the system interface. The system allows you to work not only with the documents for your clients but also to create/sign off on internal applications, which greatly speeds up and simplifies daily work. Similarly, utilizing an efficient Invoice Maker can further streamline financial management and enhance client interactions, contributing to a more cohesive business process.
6. Closing a deal
If a deal closes with a sale, the customer is promoted to the regular segment. This means not only high-quality service but also the work of the marketing department, which will periodically communicate with the client. And CRM will help choose the most effective channel and frequency of interactions. The result of such a strategy is a repeat sale (product) or service extension.
7. Client re-growth in case of refusal
In case a customer takes a long pause in communication or refuses to make a purchase, CRM brings him/her back to the initial stage of the funnel for re-growth. Personalized offers and targeted marketing allow you to achieve the desired result.
8. Company work analytics
At all stages of work, CRM offers detailed analytics 24/7 in the form of informative dashboards. Managers at all levels can analyze the current state of sales, workload of managers, their effectiveness, as well as plan and control the marketing costs, and much more.
Why Integrate a CRM System?
The introduction of CRM allows you to adjust the work of the sales department and increase the quality of services for customers. The following benefits of CRM integration stand out among others:
- Sales department efficiency analysis allows you to evaluate the effectiveness of each manager individually, as well as coordinate and distribute the load among employees and analyze the stages of the sales funnel;
- Storing and systematization of client data. All history of interaction between the client and sales department is registered in CRM, including all purchases, contact information, preferences, all messages, and conversations with the operator. This allows you to increase customer loyalty by sending personalized recommendations and offers;
- Automation of business processes. CRM reduces the load on the managers of the company and allows optimizing the work processes of the company. The system simplifies document verification management, allows you to transfer transactions by stages of the funnel, and automatically launches mailings based on ready-made scripts;
- Analyzing the effectiveness of advertising channels. End-to-end analytics allows you to track the full path of a client from viewing an ad to paying for purchase on the website. This module in the CRM allows you to determine the efficiency of marketing investments and the performance of advertising channels, as well as the ability to plan and adjust the company's budget.
CRM integration with the website allows you to prevent the loss of leads and process all incoming requests. You can view detailed reports on the company's processes in real time, shape managers' work, and optimize the internal processes of the company.
Ways to Integrate a Website with CRM
You can connect the CRM service to the website manually by using built-in product tools, third-party apps, or programming services. Let's discuss the features, advantages/disadvantages of all existing methods of implementation.
Free (built-in) integration ways
You can perform the integration with a website without third-party intervention - via built-in product tools. Among free methods of synchronization, we should mention installation via a ready-made script or connection via email.
Installing a Contact Form or Widget
The most popular solution is to add a ready-to-use widget or a contact form. For this purpose, create a new form in the CRM synchronization Settings section: set a name, enter the site address, choose characteristics and functionality of the form from offered variants.
After saving the new form, the program code will appear in the CRM. Copy it and paste it into the source code on the site pages. It's important that the code is added between "<head>" and "</head>" lines - otherwise, the data will not be transferred to the CRM.
The advantages of the method are easy setup and the ability to create separate forms on the site. The disadvantage is a minimum amount of visual changes and the lack of customization of linked user fields.
Connecting via email
This method is usually used when it's impossible to properly integrate through the widget. Connecting via email is only possible on sites that use a form of communication with the ability to send emails. For example, after a purchase, a confirmation email is sent to the client's email.
For synchronization, it's necessary to connect the email to the CRM and then set up a duplicate mail for the client at the address indicated in the email. Additionally, you have to specify that the email address of the client is written in the addressees. Otherwise, each new email will not be registered in the CRM as a new lead, which will lead to false requests and cause incorrect work of the analytics module.
The main advantage of such a solution is the simplicity of setup and the absence of financial investment. Among the disadvantages - the absence of UTM tags and the breakdown of custom fields.
Integration with paid solutions
You can integrate a CRM system with your website with the help of third-party software. For synchronization, it's enough to purchase a ready-to-use app from the CRM system’s
internal online store or on the website of the integrator. The cost of ready-to-use solutions directly depends on the product functionality and popularity of the used system.
As for the advantages of the method, you can expect more extensive settings for synchronization and data uploads into the CRM. The disadvantages are the need to install a third-party app and frequent problems when searching for a suitable product for unpopular CMS or sites built from scratch with clean code. The complete absence or problematic work of the app's tech support is worth noting separately.
Integration via API
API is a programming interface that receives and sends requests to the server, allowing you to set up synchronization between third-party IT products. Integration with CRM systems via API allows you to implement non-trivial tasks and set up sending any data science from the site, including hidden data.
For example, with API, you can set up the distribution of customer requests into CRM groups, based on the format of contact data, as well as transfer values from UTM tags. This allows full control of the sales funnel, as well as running end-to-end analytics and traffic source analysis.
As for the disadvantages of this method, the complexity and high cost of implementation deserve special attention. Integrating a website with a CRM system requires a team of qualified professionals. In addition, for the stable operation, moving the website to a hosting service (that supports PHP processing) is also required.
Types of CRM Systems
Local CRM VS Cloud CRM
Companies carefully consider the way they deploy a CRM system to make sure it meets their business goals. Some organizations may benefit from on-premises software, but a cloud-based CRM system has its advantages as well.
When opting for an on-premises CRM, a company needs to purchase a subscription to use it in advance. Given the fact that the software resides on the company's own servers, local CRM can be a good choice for organizations with strict security policies.
If you choose local CRM, the deployment process will require more time and IT resources. You will also have to ensure ongoing maintenance of the local system since the vendor is not responsible for the flawless operation of your servers. At the same time, the vendor still provides tech support that is able to resolve critical issues.
On the other hand, software as a service (SaaS) or cloud CRM stores data on the servers of a certified cloud provider. In this case, users have full access to the database tools, wherever they are. The provider is responsible for the smooth operation of the system, with all the necessary updates and ongoing support.
Importantly, cloud CRM is highly scalable. This means that the organization can easily expand not only the functionality of the system but also its performance as business requirements grow.
The only requirement for cloud system availability is a reliable Internet connection.
Typically, most companies choose a cloud-based service for their CRM system deployment, but the on-site option is also available.
As mentioned earlier, documents are an essential part of any business. Manual document management systems are used more often in the early stages. However, as a company grows, the process can become very burdensome. Thus, workflow automation has become a vital tool that can give businesses an extra edge in any competitive market.
Next, we are going to consider a few benefits of document management systems and workflow automation.
Benefits of Electronic Document Automation
Simplification of the internal and external document flow
Your business needs streamlined interactions between departments within your company, as well as with external partners and customers. Modern solutions allow you to automate these areas. For example, in ELMA365 an employee can create a note/memo and send it immediately to everyone involved.
Employees do not need to walk around the office with paperwork to coordinate time off, order equipment, or make vacation/business trips. Information can be added online even from a phone. The system will then generate the document itself and send it to the manager.
The most common business processes, such as checking, approving, correcting, and contracting, can become a headache in a traditional system. Document management software significantly optimizes such tasks, provides access to electronic documents and their delivery in real time. It also helps analyze data rooms and generate reports, which subsequently has a positive impact on business decision-making.
Reduced reliance on human error
Manual data entry is usually accompanied by human errors that take time and money to correct. Workflow automation solutions help eliminate such errors, thereby speeding up business processes. In some systems, most data only needs to be entered once. The system itself monitors who the document is sent to and constantly reminds them of tasks. The employee receives timely notifications of any assignments, goals, overdue tasks, or missed approvals. In fact, it brings EDF (Electronic Document Flow) closer to BPM (Business Process Management).
Process management software structures processes and makes them transparent. For example, many systems help automate the work with financial documents. This allows you to set a route for approving incoming invoices, thereby excluding cases of lost documents and reducing the risk of late payment. Approval by route takes minimum time, and the stages of consideration become transparent and controllable.
Such solutions help with task scheduling, collaboration with other employees, workload management, creating/sharing documentation, and evaluating progress. Today, workflow management solutions are needed to keep teams together in the face of remote collaboration and increasing multitasking. A nice bonus in the system will be the built-in in-company messenger that allows you to send instant messages directly from the system interface.
You can choose to create tools for automation in individual departments, but eventually, most companies will find out that setting up a BPM system is a simpler and more flexible solution. It allows not only to maintain an electronic document management system but also to digitize processes not related to working with documents.
Increased data availability
The content management system is integrated with a search engine that helps find documents by simply entering keywords or phrases related to the document. This feature greatly simplifies the recovery of misfiled papers and reduces the risk of lost documents. Electronic archive is a very handy tool that helps you quickly find and upload documents, relieving employees from paper chores. Most advanced systems allow you to customize access and structure so you don't have to get used to and adapt to it.
Using an EDF system also provides easy access to documents from anywhere in the world, which corresponds to the current trends of remote work. System notifications are sent to the appropriate employees so they don't lose sight of changing transaction statuses. As a result, the business has streamlined communication, and employees are always aware of what's happening with documents. Taking into account the focus on remote teams, an optimized mobile app will be an undeniable advantage. Employees will have access to a messenger, documents, tasks, and processes 24/7 from anywhere in the world.
Reducing the cost of support
Automating electronic document management reduces the cost of supporting the process. Paper documentation is a costly overhead. Hiring employees to process documents, couriers to deliver them, purchasing office supplies, maintaining special storage areas for archives, and frequently replacing toner for printers is not cheap. Human inattention and forgetfulness also complicate the paperwork process. Automating the workflow helps reduce costs. A business without printers, ink cartridges, and maintenance costs is a standard that every company should embrace. In addition, by going paperless, a business will do the planet a huge favor.
As a result, the operation of a highly loaded system remains financially affordable, and support and development do not require lengthy training. Most automation systems integrate with popular document exchange services, allowing for a completely paperless workflow. Electronic documents are approved, electronically signed (EDS), and then sent to a document exchange service from the system's interface. This greatly simplifies the exchange procedure and speeds up the delivery of correspondence to counterparties.
High level of security
Electronic document management (EDM) implies minimal human intervention. Therefore, say, it's practically impossible to lose a document on the way. An employee has access that can be managed at the folder level, opening them to different groups or individuals. Only authorized users are allowed access to documents. In addition, the business is provided with a tracking log, which records the time the document was accessed and who accessed it. The system also implements the ability to track any changes made to documents. Using the audit trail system, you can track which tasks were performed, by whom, and when. Records are kept for as long as the company is using the EDM system.
Also, in terms of security, EDM has a backup system. Electronic documents can be stored securely on hard drives, smartphones, physical drives, or in the cloud. In case something happens in the company office (e.g., a fire or a burglary) the documents remain safe. Today's management systems use cloud platforms, implement information security tools, and provide document backups.
Workflow automation allows businesses to identify redundant activities that affect productivity and eliminate them. With an electronic document management system, the company's business processes will be streamlined, which will lead to increased revenue, as well as easier and more efficient work. Using a manual system will eventually get you nowhere. Today's businesses need an electronic document management system that will suit every organization's business needs and have all the capabilities to handle day-to-day tasks.
The most preferred methods of integrating a website with a CRM, based on the tasks at hand. To briefly summarize, we can determine that:
- Creating a form or widget is the easiest and most budget-friendly integration option to get customer data. This is a suitable solution for informational sites, blogs, portfolios, promotional sites, etc.;
- Installation of a third-party app allows you to implement the most required pool of tasks for launching landing pages, small online stores, etc. It also allows solving typical tasks, not suitable for complex cases;
- Deployment through APIs provides the flexibility of customization and allows the implementation of a task of any complexity. For the implementation of complex or non-trivial integrations, such as connecting an online store or a corporate site to a CRM system, we recommend contacting professionals.