What is CRM integration? – Councilor Forbes

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Customer data remains one of the most valuable resources a business can have. By better understanding current and potential customers, a business can provide more personalized attention and better develop a marketing strategy. Saving, aggregating, and managing all of this data, however, is a heavy task. This is why companies so often turn to integrated customer relationship management (CRM) systems to centralize other systems, databases and information flows.

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What is CRM integration?

To better understand CRM integration, let’s first step back and look at how businesses use CRM systems.

CRM software explained

Customer relationship management as a practice combines strategies and technologies to best manage interactions with customers. It is based on the collection and analysis of data from customer touchpoints throughout the “customer lifecycle”. This cycle can include everything from the first contact with prospects and prospects to after-sales interactions and efforts to retain subscribers or customers.

CRM software, in turn, is a centralized platform designed to consolidate a variety of customer information into a single database or set of databases for faster, more streamlined access and analysis. With this compilation and storage of information such as customer bio details, account information, sales data, company records, etc., customers can be more easily managed. Some CRM systems are one-time purchase software products installed on a corporate server, which give the company full control over the program and data. Other systems function as software as a service (SaaS) platforms that a business can subscribe to and access from anywhere. Open source solutions also exist.

CRM systems are used to automatically collect, store and organize customer data. Automation not only streamlines the customer experience, but also improves the business experience by reducing the workload. It also helps facilitate adaptability or connectivity with other separate systems within the business, which is perhaps the biggest advantage of CRM systems. Do your customers provide email when purchasing through a program, but another program handles email marketing? CRM software can fill this gap.

How CRM Integration Works

A CRM system reaches its full potential when connected to other applications and software. “CRM integration” is the process of connecting a CRM system to other systems and simply means that a company’s customer data can be seamlessly integrated with third-party systems. These third-party systems may be unrelated to the CRM system, but the data they generate or use may improve the functioning of the CRM, and vice versa.

The integration will be very different for different types of businesses. For some, it’s as simple as tying a CRM system to a few functions of a corporate website, which can be done through integrations already built into the CRM software. However, more complex businesses will need to integrate a CRM platform with a variety of other systems, including equally or more complex systems, such as an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.

Most CRM system integrations require connection through APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). A tool called an “Integration Platform as a Service” (iPaaS) that facilitates information sharing between third-party systems has become popular for performing CRM integrations.

Examples of CRM integration

While CRM integration can extend to a wide variety of business functions, here are some particularly common examples of CRM integration.

Integration of CRM with e-commerce

Perhaps no business area will benefit more from a CRM system and its good integration than the world of sales. CRM systems are an important tool here as they record and track data on current customers and prospects across many channels.

To get the most out of this function, the CRM system should be integrated with the e-commerce platform used to manage the sales operations (i.e. customer navigation, order, checkout). Examples include BigCommerce, Shopify, WooCommerce, and Square, to name a few. This will automatically synchronize contacts, products and orders within a single system.

Integration of CRM into marketing

Before closing a sale, many companies hope they have acquired a wealth of information about potential customers, the goal being to gain a “360 degree” view of a customer profile. As such, many companies rely on marketing automation systems like Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Adobe Experience Cloud, HubSpot, and others to integrate customer data from popular marketing channels.

To see a potential customer through all possible channels and to market them in the most effective way possible, the integration of the CRM system is crucial. In the case of marketing, CRM integration can connect relevant data to all other customer information generated throughout the customer lifecycle and help channel the lead to the right marketing channel to close a sale.

Integration of CRM into customer service

When customers contact businesses for information or help, tickets or cases are generated and need to be tracked and organized. Up-to-date information on warranties, repairs / maintenance and returns should also be managed and referenced. A range of software can be used to address these aspects of customer service (such as IT service management software and field service software), but integration with CRM software or services is required in order to connect this information. to other related fields.

CRM integration can simply merge this customer service data with larger customer databases, and it can also link customer service operations directly with other channels. For example, do on-site repair technicians have access to information about customer calls to support personnel? Without an information sharing solution, how will marketing or customer service know when to follow up with a customer if a repair technician notices early maintenance?

Benefits of CRM integration

At best, CRM integration within an enterprise works much like the shipper in a restaurant kitchen, connecting the client side of operations to the backdrop where services are generated. Either way, a streamlined and predictable flow of information between these different elements is what keeps the whole thing running smoothly and ultimately keeping customers happy. Here are some major benefits of using CRM integration for this purpose.

Better communication and customer service

The quality of the customer experience when doing business with you is just as important as the quality of the products or services rendered. This is especially true in areas of business where similar products and services are offered by many competitors. In order to keep customers happy and stay ahead of the competition, businesses can’t afford to let go of all necessary communication and must establish timely, accurate, and personalized contact when contacting.

The information access, automation capability, and employee awareness potential that CRM integration enables have become invaluable to the customer-centric elements of many businesses. CRM can help provide the best way to drive sales growth by attracting and retaining customers with the right communication.

Automation opportunities

Any platform that supports the automation of communication and record keeping tasks helps a business conserve resources, as these are two areas that would otherwise take up a huge amount of employee time. For example, a well-integrated CRM system can connect incoming information about customer support needs to a system that automates the appropriate communication with the customer and relevant parties within the business. This saves time and money as there is no need to hire an employee to lead the workflow or manually keep records of all of this once it is complete.

Improved organization and efficiency

As important as automation is to internal efficiency, consolidating information into a single system enables increased productivity. Tasks such as monitoring and analyzing customer data can be performed more easily and on a larger scale when employees do not have to log in and switch between multiple systems, and when desired information can be retrieved and manipulated. instantly. Centralized access to organized data not only lightens an employee’s workload; it also promotes transparency and clear communication within the company.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why not just use custom code instead of APIs or iPaaS?

Developers can write code to connect two different systems and force them to communicate, and can probably do so without too much trouble. While not uncommon, this strategy can quickly get messy, as businesses can use hundreds of different apps, and connections can break with updates to any of those software. This is why integrated CRM systems are recommended, especially for companies that frequently change or update their products or services and may not have software developers on their staff.

Do CRM systems integrate with social media?

Phone channels, emails, and websites have been the mainstay of customer-to-business communication over the past decades, but social media is increasingly driving interactions and even direct sales. As such, integrating CRM with social media is becoming an increasingly important aspect of customer relationship management. There are plenty of social media management and automation apps that integrate fairly well with CRM systems.

What does CRM integration mean for customers?

Customers will likely benefit from better speed of a company’s communications when the CRM integration is used correctly, but the biggest difference they’ll notice is a company’s increased ability to customize. CRM systems allow a business to further personalize its communication to the individual customer – and for that personalization to be more precise – due to its efficiency in analyzing consumption patterns with so much customer data coming from so many different sources.

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