Customer Relationship Management: CRM Integration as a Business Strategy

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications offer a better understanding of what customers need. CRM is a sales and marketing tool but can be extended through the whole lifecycle with customers to ?provide for multiple touchpoints between the company and its customers.

CRM is much more sophisticated than integrating the functions of a telephone, date book, Rolodex, email, and SMS messaging into a single application. This is a contact manager, not a CRM.

The Purpose of CRM?

Regardless of the type of CRM one uses, these applications basically have the same objectives and purpose:

  • Enhance communication between company and customers,
  • Improve company profitability,
  • Enable marketing targeting and related campaigns,
  • Develop customer tracking and retention, and
  • Enhance business focus and profitability.

What is CRM Integration?

CRM Integration combines several aspects of your system into a single point of contact for a unifying purpose and common set of objectives.

Contrary to common misconception, CRM is more than just mere customer information. With CRM integration, companies can streamline business processes

There are three levels of CRM integration commonly implemented by companies: data replication, data synchronization, and process integration. Each level has its distinct characteristics, benefits, risks, requirements, and costs.

Data Replication ? This is the simplest of the three types. Here, a copy of a particular customer?s information from one system is appended to the records in the integrated CRM application. The data moves in one direction only.

The duplicate information, however, is ?view only? and cannot be modified by the user in the CRM application. Nevertheless, it offers complete customer information.

Data Synchronization? The goal of data synchronization is to keep the same set of information in various systems. This type seeks to enhance consistency of customer data in multiple systems. Among the common customer information encountered on this level are names, addresses, phone numbers, and other contact information.

By reproducing the changes done in one database system across all other systems, data entry tasks are trimmed down and errors significantly reduced.

Process Integration ? This level embraces the value of data sharing from one system to another, giving emphasis on each system?s participation in the integrated process. Integration can be of disparate systems (phones / communication / finance / support / dispatch / manufacturing ) and external system (web / other suppliers / other sales gateways).

E.g. From finding the prospective customer, to an order from the customer, CRM tracks the marketing and sales pipeline. From order placement, information is sent to the finance / ERP system, checking on the ordered item?s availability, ?and coordinating with another system to check on the customer?s information. ?CRM can be the order and sales process, but the order and payment process will be transparent in both the CRM and the finance / ERP system.

By harmonizing these processes companies can increase revenue and improve customer experience.

Why the Need for CRM Integration

For current and prospective customers? information retention, CRM integration is a very valuable tool. This business tool can help companies prepare and delegate tasks, monitor tasks, spot customer trends, and push for overall business process efficiency.

Setting up several systems and aligning them into a single customer relationship management application can provide a seamless business process. For an efficient way of running a business, do it with CRM integration.

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