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Will Cloud-Based CRM Systems Really Improve Your Customer Service? Jodi Beuder

Cloud-Based CRM Systems: Better Customer Service?With cloud-based every­thing dom­i­nat­ing the tech-world land­scape these days, it’s rea­son­able to con­sider the pros and cons of migrat­ing your CRM sys­tems to the cloud. How­ever, before you start explor­ing the nuances of cloud-based CRM mobile app options, scal­a­bil­ity, or secu­rity fea­tures, keep in mind the most impor­tant ques­tion of all: Will cloud-based CRM sys­tems improve your cus­tomer ser­vice?

If you’re not famil­iar with cloud-based pro­grams and com­pa­nies, cloud com­put­ing is basi­cally just a metaphor, or dif­fer­ent way of say­ing that a company’s data and pro­grams are stored and accessed through the inter­net instead of a hard drive sys­tem. Busi­nesses are linked into larger sys­tems, such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), or Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) pro­grams, depend­ing on their size and need.

The Ben­e­fits of the CRM Cloud

The cloud, well, let’s just say it’s rain­ing these days. Com­pa­nies offer­ing cloud based ser­vices – even free-cloud based ser­vices – are abound­ing. In the over­all cloud com­put­ing mar­ket­place, from 2010–2012, rev­enue has increased from $8.7 bil­lion to $16.7 bil­lion. Clearly, com­pa­nies are enjoy­ing the advan­tages that ser­vices on the cloud offer, includ­ing lower costs (typ­i­cally, depend­ing on size); improved agility; the abil­ity to scale up or down rapidly; and the flex­i­bil­ity to use the cloud for remote workforces.

How­ever, not all busi­nesses are well-suited to cloud-based CRM solu­tions, and for some, the cost advan­tages don’t trans­late if the orga­ni­za­tion is at a cer­tain capac­ity or already has deep invest­ments in IT infra­struc­ture and sys­tems. For exam­ple, com­pa­nies that require more con­trol over their data­bases may pre­fer on-premise sys­tems, if they already have the inter­nal resources to sup­port infor­ma­tion through pri­vate data­bases. Addi­tion­ally, com­pa­nies that require high-levels of secu­rity through Ser­vice Level Agree­ments (such as health­care or bank­ing providers), may need to house all data inter­nally, ver­sus cloud-based CRM sys­tems. And for some com­pa­nies, they sim­ply pre­fer to have direct con­trol over the details of their busi­ness deci­sions and specifics of a pro­gram; with a cloud-based CRM sys­tem, a com­pany is still at the mercy of updates by the host­ing company.

CRM and its Applic­a­bil­ity to Cus­tomer Satisfaction

Cus­tomer Rela­tion­ship Man­age­ment pro­grams assist in cus­tomer sup­port ser­vices by stream­lin­ing a customer’s data, allow­ing cus­tomer ser­vice reps to keep track of infor­ma­tion, and bet­ter ser­vice cus­tomers through knowl­edge of the customer’s his­tory. Cloud-based CRM sys­tems allow com­pa­nies to use the ben­e­fits of the cloud for CRM ser­vices – this is espe­cially help­ful for com­pa­nies that must scale up or down quickly, have a remote work­force, and/or rely on CRM social space tools.

Per­haps the most ben­e­fi­cial aspect of CRM pro­grams – par­tic­u­larly nim­ble cloud-based CRM sys­tems – is that it shifts the cus­tomer ser­vice rela­tion­ship from being reac­tive to one that is proac­tive. Instead of sim­ply inter­act­ing with cus­tomers at moments when they call to seek a solu­tion or solve an issue, a well-managed CRM pro­gram puts the com­pany in con­trol: by hav­ing a data­base of a customer’s infor­ma­tion and his­tory, com­pa­nies can instead reach out to cus­tomers early in the process (such as after the sale or ser­vice has been ini­ti­ated) to mon­i­tor sat­is­fac­tion, address any ques­tions, and assist in any con­cerns before the cus­tomer becomes frus­trated and is forced to call the com­pany. The agility of the cloud-based CRM solu­tions aug­ment the abil­ity of com­pa­nies to use CRM tools and try out new types of CRM pro­grams with­out mak­ing large cap­i­tal invest­ments; a com­pany can instead use cloud CRM pilot pro­grams to test what cus­tomers respond best to.

Don’t Put the CRM Cloud-Based Cart Before the Horse

As we men­tioned in the begin­ning of this arti­cle, it’s clear that your com­pany will have numer­ous ques­tions and con­sid­er­a­tions before decid­ing to invest in a cloud-based CRM pro­gram. How­ever, it is putting the cart before the horse a bit to ask all of the detailed ques­tions about cloud-based CRM providers if you have not first tack­led the ques­tion of how a cloud-based CRM pro­gram will improve your company’s cus­tomer ser­vice. It may be decep­tively sim­ple to look at the easy-interfaces that many cloud CRMs offer and con­clude that you can there­fore skimp on train­ing. How­ever, as with any new tool that you intro­duce to your cus­tomer ser­vice team, proper train­ing is para­mount to suc­cess­ful imple­men­ta­tion and increased cus­tomer satisfaction.

Stud­ies on CRM soft­ware have found that 30 to 40 per­cent of prob­lems cited with CRM pro­grams were due to the prod­uct, but the major­ity of the com­plaints were directed toward the inter­nal processes and strat­egy used in imple­ment­ing the new pro­grams. Namely, the train­ing was not ade­quate enough to help com­pa­nies real­ize the full ben­e­fit of CRM programs.

For­tu­nately, you can enjoy the ben­e­fits that cloud-based CRM pro­grams offer and see increased cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion rates from your invest­ment. Our answer to the ques­tion we first posed? Yes, cloud-based CRM sys­tems can improve cus­tomer ser­vice with in-depth cus­tomer ser­vice train­ing behind your shiny new cloud-based CRM system.

Jodi Beuder, Cus­tomer Expe­ri­ence Advo­cate at Impact Learn­ing Sys­tems, believes cus­tomer ser­vice exists not just out­side the com­pany, but inside, too.. “Hav­ing excel­lent cus­tomer ser­vice skills and knowl­edge are para­mount to cre­at­ing strong work­ing rela­tion­ships, whether you are in an office or out in the field.” With over 17 years in Mar­ket­ing Exec­u­tive roles, Jodi has ded­i­cated her career to assist­ing com­pa­nies grow their brand pres­ence and sales, and most impor­tantly, their cus­tomer reten­tion and satisfaction.
Jodi Beuder
View all posts by Jodi Beuder
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