A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is an integral part of many modern businesses. A central hub that organizes, automates and synchronizes all of your vital customer information can really make the difference when it comes to customer retention.
As a charity, you will be handling a large amount of data collected from your beneficiaries, not only names and addresses, but also up to date records of money raised and spent and projections– meaning you can both streamline operations and communicate this information using one system.
There are systems specifically designed for the NFP sector, but there is no reason that some of the commercial programs cannot be used by a charity; most systems are relatively easy to manipulate, ensuring that it is capable of capturing the data that you to be entered.
Iain O’Kane, Managing Director of DMC Software Solutions offers some guidance, “Before even looking for a new CRM system, it is imperative that you have a very clear strategy of what you want the system to achieve. Do you want to share and analyse the data, do you want to report on the success of individual campaigns or do you simply want to manage your contacts?”
When it comes to cost, you can expect to pay anything from £1,000 to £1m on a CRM system. We would recommend finding a ‘per user’ subscription model, they are scalable and cost effective, making them the best option.
Chances are, that you have more than one branch and a large employee base needing access to a centralised data system on both desk top and digital devices. If this is the case, a CRM system that is based in the cloud should be a serious consideration. Cloud computing is an emerging platform, one that is already being integrated further and further into our daily lives with the rise of the Internet of Things. Forbes Magazine told us in a recent article that, “The cloud computing market is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.8% from 2014 to 2018, and will reach $127.5B by 2018.” The advantages of a cloud based system is increased flexibility, increased accessibility and increased security. Offsite data centres are incredibly secure, using encryption to protect the information that is held.
‘Keep it simple stupid’- this phrase has been done to death but it makes a really good point when it comes to choosing a new CRM. Even more so for a charity, when the last thing you want to happen is to pay out more than you need to on a CRM system when your sole aim is to use your monetary resources to support and assist. Complicated systems will call for in depth staff training, which can be a costly exercise.
Once you have done your research and narrowed down your options, it may be useful to implement a trial period with a prototype of your chosen system and become familiar with its functionality and features. It is worthwhile setting measurable goals once you have had an in depth product demo to see how the system deals with your requirements, and play around with it using real data. The true test of whether the product is right for you is to get a feel of the work flow in the CRM system, if it is simple to enter information and you can understand the reporting tools it offers without you having to ask a myriad of questions, chances are it’s right for you.