Customer relationship management systems can yield additional value when retailers connect them to data sources, such as email and survey tools, and to business intelligence systems and report-writing software.

Ralph Tkatchuk, founder and operator, TK DataSec Consultancy

Ralph Tkatchuk, founder and operator, TK DataSec Consultancy

Even as customer relationship management (CRM) tools become more central to many industries’ success, most companies are content to employ the most basic version they find. CRMs are useful not just because they simplify keeping track of customers and sales, but due to their versatility and customizability. Most existing platforms offer the ability to integrate with other tools that can upgrade and augment existing business processes.

Regardless, simply adding tools for their own sake can be inefficient. The top CRM suites include tools designed to enhance functions and cover important gaps in companies’ operations. If you are looking to optimize your CRM, these five integrations provide a fast and easy upgrade for your existing operational model.

CRMs and email—collect better data from the start

One of CRMs’ biggest functions is to create a pipeline that funnels new leads from onboarding to conversion. The whole chain begins with properly recording new leads’ information and handling their initial contact with an organization. A major roadblock to efficient record-keeping commences with the multiple sources and formats leads arrive in.

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CRMs offer valuable insights that are useful for more than just the sales team.

Connecting an organization’s CRM to communication tools such as email clients, VoIP systems, and even messaging applications can streamline the process. Directly integrating CRMs with the sources of lead data automates the creation process and instantly attaches previous conversations and interactions, offering more information for representatives to pull from at the start. Moreover, email marketing campaigns can be tailored more accurately to specific audiences using valuable CRM consumer data.

Connecting with VoIP—create better sales conditions

CRMs are designed to optimize the sales process by offering insights and better customer tracking. However, many sales teams must constantly navigate phone calls and other communication channels while wrangling with CRMs to find the data they need. Limiting access to data when it is needed most reduces sales peoples’ efficiency and negates the value CRMs can add.

VoIP has become a go-to solution for business communications as it reduces costs and offers better connectivity across the globe. A recent survey highlighted the increasing popularity of the technology, with over 65% of respondents noting they use some form of VoIP. The trend becomes important when considering many of the calls being made and received are client-facing.

A CRM integration adds two important dimensions. First, it gives employees a better reference point when speaking to a customer by pre-loading data on specific callers or clients. Second, it simplifies the update process for existing customers by instantly saving recorded calls or message conversations directly to the CRM.

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Surveys and forms—collect better data

For companies that are mostly consumer-facing, constantly gauging the audience’s tendencies and feelings about their products is borne out of necessity. The data collection process may have changed, but one of the most popular methods for learning about consumers is via surveys and satisfaction forms. For many, this means creating documents to aggregate data before importing this data into an analytics suite.

This process separates key data from the consumers that provided it. By integrating survey and form tools directly with a CRM, companies can remove unnecessary steps and better associate data with the consumers it came from. These tools also expand surveys’ reach by taking them out of email or paper forms, and instead transitioning surveys to social media and other popular blogs, websites, and industry resources.

Business intelligence suites—understand consumer data better

Real-time analytics and business intelligence are currently industry buzzwords and are rapidly becoming a key aspect of corporate decision-making. Most importantly, they provide precise insights that can be used to actively improve operations. For e-commerce, real-time analytics offer a way to fine-tune offerings and make incremental changes to operations instead without affecting uptime. Connecting a business intelligence suite directly to a CRM offers a useful data stream that can convert data into better insights

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A CRM constantly produces data that can be used, combined, and interpreted in several useful ways. In its raw form, consumer data can still generate useful insights—where in the sales process leads are lost, which strategies work best, or even how successfully specific team members are onboarding new clients. It can be combined with operational data to produce less obvious insights—which times are best for sales, or how specific events affect consumer behaviors. This engrained flexibility and constant stream of consumer data enables e-commerce companies to make better decisions that are relevant when they’re implemented.

Reporting tools—offer clearer insights to stakeholders

Finally, CRMs offer valuable insights that are useful for more than just the sales team. Consumer data and sales information can indicate how effective policies, programs, and initiatives are on an organizational level. It can also show areas where the company could improve its communications (for example, by highlighting lead sources). However, building reports manually is time-wasting and can cut into productivity elsewhere.

CRM integrations with reporting tools, such as the Hubspot CRM, significantly reduce the wastage of reports without sacrificing insight quality. By taking data directly from the source, reporting tools can be programmed to trawl specific datasets and collect only relevant information. This provides better final insights and can enhance reporting activities. In turn, better reporting leads to more agile decision-making and improved efficiency by reducing friction and wasteful processes.

CRMs are constantly improving and when properly implemented, can help reduce company-wide inefficiencies. By finding areas where integrations make sense, CRMs can also offer better data for sectors and teams that truly need these insights to attain better results.

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TK DataSec Consultancy provides advice on e-commerce security.