CRM Defined

What is CRM and Contact Management?

Customer relationship management (CRM) refers to processes, software, and systems that help an enterprise manage its relationships with prospects, customers, distribution channels, call centers, and suppliers. Well-executed CRM improves business intelligence, internal and external communications, operations, customer and employee retention, resulting in increased customer loyalty and improved revenue.

CRM can be based upon a single software application or a suite of applications that integrate all customer-facing, front-office and back-office functions. While software provides the data framework, careful integration of strategy, business processes, workflow, and analytics are essential for a successful CRM implementation.

Contact management is often the better choice for smaller organizations, and is capable of linking sales, marketing, and customer-support departments within mid-sized organizations. Contact management’s core function is to track interactions with prospects and customers and typically doesn’t extend to enterprise-wide integrations of back-office functions.

Nonetheless, contact management serves to centralize data as well as support business processes, reporting, basic campaign management, and sales forecasting. As the market has matured, some contact management applications can integrate additional tools with enterprise applications and thus offer a low-cost entry point for CRM, essentially providing CRM-lite.