Top Customer Relationship Management Software Review

Successful CRM is far more than just a one time project activity; it is a change in company culture and a continuous journey that matures over time as customer needs evolve, organizational capabilities change and the customer relationship grows. CRM is a business strategy first and foremost. CRM software provides the framework, management and automation to empower CRM strategies. CRM community members have discovered successful methods, effective business processes, lessons learned and best practices which collectively reduce risk and increase CRM payback.

CRM (customer relationship management) software tracks customers and prospects for marketing, sales and service purposes. CRM covers a wide gamut of functionality, so make sure you know exactly what you want when you look at CRM. Some CRM systems offer little more than contact management while others include support, opportunity and sales funnel tracking, campaign management and quotes and sales orders.

Your sales force will be using the CRM system a lot, so make sure you address their needs. Make it easy for them to record the information you want by automatically capturing email and phone calls. Look for alerts to remind them of follow up events. You’ll probably want them to attach proposals to opportunities or accounts, so make sure there aren’t tight restrictions on file uploads or storage.

What to look for in CRM:

  • Upload large size files
  • Import/export from Microsoft Excel
  • Analytics with graphical presentation of reports
  • No restrictions on the number of customers or contacts
  • Ample data storage
  • Email integration
  • Site customization
  • Company specific sales processes
  • Phone system
  • Mobile applications for iOS and Android

Read these reviews before making a shortlist of CRM applications to test-drive.

 

Salesforce

Salesforce.com is still the new guy, but no longer the small guy. The company is now the third largest CRM software publisher. While not the size if its major competitors—such as Oracle, SAP or Microsoft—it has nonetheless acquired over 2 million global customers.

Salesforce.com has become a leading provider of customer management software applications delivered via the software-as-a-service or cloud computing model. The company’s flagship solution is a customer relationship management (CRM) system designed for businesses of all sizes and industries worldwide.

Salesforce also provides a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solution called Force.com and manages a portfolio of integrated third party systems in an online ecosystem it calls AppExchange. Salesforce.com markets its CRM and enterprise software solutions to businesses on a subscription basis, primarily through a direct sales model but also indirectly through a business partner channel.

 

Siebel

Oracle’s CRM products include Oracle Siebel CRM, Oracle CRM on Demand, Oracle E-Business Suite (EBS), Oracle PeopleSoft Enterprise and Oracle Contact Center Anywhere (CCA). The company retains over 5,000 global CRM customers, nearly 5 millions users and approximately 130 million self service users.

Siebel Systems was the undisputed dominant CRM software vendor, peaking at 45% market share in 2002. Since being acquired by Oracle in 2005, the product has continued its assertive push however with stiff competition from arch rival SAP, and multiple ways to measure market share, both Oracle and SAP claim top CRM software industry position. Most analysts give Oracle a slight edge, however, it largely comes down to what variables are used and benchmarks are counted.

Oracle Siebel is an impressive enterprise-level customer relationship management application. The product’s roots were deep in Sales Force Automation (SFA), however, over several years Siebel Systems acquired or built-out a broad CRM suite as well as dozens of purpose-built vertical market CRM solutions.

Oracle Siebel, like almost all other client-server CRM software, has a reputation for high risk, and very expensive, deployments—leaving this enterprise software solution largely for enterprise-level customers. In fact, failed implementations and frustrated users are the primary impetus for the rise and sky-rocketing growth of cloud or software as a service (SaaS) CRM systems. Not to be left out of a major market movement, Oracle also offers its Oracle CRM on Demand for SaaS CRM prospects.

 

SAP

The SAP CRM solution is a fully integrated customer relationship management (CRM) software manufactured by SAP AG that targets business software requirements of midsize and large organizations for nearly all industries and sectors.

SAP’s CRM application includes several integrated modules that support key customer facing functional areas including: SAP CRM Sales (sales force automation), SAP CRM Marketing, SAP CRM Service, SAP CRM Interaction Center, SAP CRM Web Channel (which includes E-Commerce, E-Marketing and E-Service) and SAP CRM Partner Channel Management.

Similar to competitor Oracle, SAP has more recently released a SaaS CRM product, called SAP Sales on Demand. However, this online solution is far more designed to extend the on-premise products than transition SAPs install base to the cloud.

For customer seeking wholesale transition to the cloud, SAP offers their Business ByDesign SaaS solution. Business ByDesign is a purpose built cloud solution covering both ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and CRM—an enterprise-wide business suite hosted from Germany and completely in the cloud.

 

Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft is the number four CRM market share leader. As is often the case with Microsoft, it takes them four versions to get it right.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is the 5th product version release for the customer relationship management software solution. Some pundits point out that there was never a version number two and Microsoft accelerated their version count as they skipped from version one to version three. However, with the most recent name change from CRM 5 to Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft has moved away from the sequential version numbering scheme.

Microsoft CRM is unique in an increasingly crowded CRM software marketplace as the same code set can be implemented on-premise or used in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) remote delivery model. Also, customers have the option to subscribe to Dynamics CRM directly from Microsoft or may choose from a plethora of specialized Microsoft partners.

The company’s most recent release now allows SaaS customers and business partners to install sever-side code in the Microsoft cloud and data centers. Microsoft’s CRM offering will also continue to advance in combination with Azure, its high profile public cloud. Additional unique Microsoft CRM product strengths include seamless integration with MS Outlook, Office & SharePoint; highly configurable role-based workflows; business intelligence (BI) and analytics; and a suite of strong technology tools for software integration and customization.

 

RightNow

RightNow doesn’t match the company size or global brand power of the prior four CRM vendors, but nonetheless is the number five market share leader and a formidable competitor in its particular target markets.

RightNow is a provider of on-demand CRM and customer experience solutions that aid B2C consumer-centric organizations deliver consistently great customer experiences. The company boasts a mission to “rid the world of bad experiences one consumer interaction at a time, 8 million times a day.”

Headquartered far from Silicon Valley in remote Bozeman, Montana, RightNow is not your typical software technology player—in fact far from it. While most of the market share leading CRM software vendors trace their roots to sales force automation (SFA), RightNow was instead born to deliver deep customer service. And while most CRM companies strive to get continually broader and grow their software footprints into platform stacks and back-office accounting and ERP systems, RightNow focuses on more of a best of breed, customer experience journey.

 

Way Forward

So Customer relationship management (CRM) software is an incredibly useful tool, with a primary function of consolidating customer information into one main hub, so users can better organize and manage relationships and increase revenue in the process. CRM will continue to be the driving force behind business growth and a properly managed customer database will prove essential.

Now you know a little bit about CRM systems, you want to know which is the right product for you? That’s the trickier part, because there are so many good products out there boasting mobility, integration, automation, functionality and it can be overwhelming when looking for a system of your own. That’s where we come in.

We use a wide variety of CRM systems, from simple budget solutions right through to complex ‘Enterprise’ systems. If for any reason you would like to speak to us about your needs then please calls us. We might be able to help!

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