Business Insights & Tips f Reuben Yonatan hOctober 24, 2016

The Beginner's Guide to Understanding 3 Types of CRM Solutions

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) protocols seek to streamline interactions between a company and its clients for mutual gain. CRM seeks to reduce idle or unproductive time for company reps while creating an avenue for the more efficient - and satisfactory - resolution of customer needs. Modern types of CRM solutions, most of them cloud-based, can perform a wide array of functions ranging from contact management to scoring leads, automating email replies and producing granular KPI reports.

Vendors that pioneered cloud-based CRM solutions - and with it, Software-as-a-Service - remain large in the CRM space and provide solutions to businesses large and small - from enterprise-level to SMBs. The industry remains largely open with hundreds of smaller vendors offering various types of CRM functions, service, pricing and integrations. While some vendors supplement their solutions with on-premises hardware or a desktop client, almost all vendors offer cloud-based CRM software via subscriptions tiered to the size and scope of the companies they support.

For a business owner or executive considering CRM software, it's worthwhile to understand which types of CRM solutions exist, and how they can serve your company.

The Types of CRM Solutions

Customer Relationship Management falls broadly into three categories. Understanding the categories will give you a sense of what type of CRM best suits your company. These three categories largely complement one another; while many CRM solutions have overlapping features, knowing which functions benefit you most will help buy the software you really need.

Operational CRM

Operational CRM automates or streamlines certain business processes - in particular ones that don't require creative human oversight. Many out of the box operational CRM functions can be further tailored for specific roles. Many aspects of operational CRM, though departmentally distinct, complement and contribute to one another.

Analytical CRM

Analytical CRM software applies models to data obtained through online and offline customer touchpoints. These touchpoints include activity on the company's website, inbound links, emails, social media, text messages and phone calls, combined with data derived from the company's direct contact with consumers, business records and external factors, ranging from the weather to the Internet of Things. Analytical CRM can diagnose past and predict consumer trends, sales activity, product availability and so forth. The enormous availability of highly granular data on a wide scale allows for highly specific reports, which can allow businesses to fine-tune operations and customer engagement across multiple channels.

Collaborative CRM

The goal of collaborative CRM is to create a seamless, unified customer experience across all available channels, whether online or offline. Collaborative CRM features will seek to reduce departmental barriers and ease information sharing.

With much of business performed online and across channels, companies can get overwhelmed by the deluge of information produced from customer interactions with their brand. CRM software can shorten the time it takes to perform routine tasks, setup automatic responses to customer behavior, reduce boundaries and allow companies to anticipate events rather than get caught by surprise. In doing so, CRM saves time and money and enables companies to dedicate more attention to the resource that matters most: their customers.

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