Customer. Relationship. Management. Three important words that we reduce to three little letters. But CRM is absolutely vital to running your business efficiently and ensuring that you deliver excellent customer service. Sure, you could try to manage CRM by the seat of your pants. You could manually record customer preferences, and you could labor over evaluating the results of your marketing efforts.
But why on earth would you?
With the proliferation of AI and machine learning, CRM services are more sophisticated, intuitive, and effective than ever. The insights you can gain from any one of the host of CRM options is simply staggering, and while it can be a chore to sift through your choices, I’m going to simplify things for you with this list of four great CRM options.
A note before you dive in: Even the most intuitive CRM software is going to demand the investment of a little time for training and education about how to implement the software for its fullest effect. After all, bells and whistles are only effective if you know how to use ‘em. You’ll have choices to make – like whether you want CRM that’s SaaS or cloud-based – so take the time to evaluate each option in light of your company’s unique needs.
Many CRM platforms and apps offer a free trial period, and I strongly encourage you to use that period to determine if you’re comfortable with the feel and the results of the provider. Don’t hesitate to shop around and try out several platforms until you find the right fit.
I’ve done the research so you don’t have to, so without further ado, here’s my list of the top CRM choices for 2019:
- NextOS from Nextiva. When you’re talking about AI and machine learning, nobody does it better than these guys. NextOS provides genuinely integrated communications with functions like automatically archived chat that maintains a customer’s entire communications history all in one place so every member of your company can be up-to-date all the time. The ability to send, collect, and analyze surveys lets you evaluate a whole range of factors, and early this year, GetCRM recognized Nextiva’s NextOS as one of the top CRM providers. When you combine Nextiva’s innovative business communications platform with its visionary approach to CRM, you may find Nextiva to be one of the pricier options on the market. But you’ll also find it intuitive, effective, and incredibly powerful.
- Hubspot. Hubspot is another innovative provider of marketing and CRM services. Full of experience and insight about increasing customer engagement with a view to bolstering your company’s bottom line, Hubspot offers CRM services at the most attractive price point of all…completely free. Users report an intuitive interface that’s both effective and easy to use. Of course, Hubspot offers companies the ability to add premium features for a price, and as your company grows and relies more heavily on Hubspot’s CRM tools, you may find that the free service ends up costing quite a bit. Hubspot’s CRM functions are a relatively new addition to its well-known marketing tools, so you can expect functionality to get even better over time.
- Apptivo. Apptivo may be the very best choice for small companies that want a CRM solution up and running quickly and for a small price. Apptivo offers a range of plans, starting with a completely free option for up to three users, offering a decent range of functionality. What’s notable about Apptivo is the degree to which it’s customizable, given its modest price. From security features to workflow automation, this cloud-based CRM platform is quite robust for the pric
- Zoho. Zoho gives you the tools to engage with customers, no matter where they are, creating memorable impressions that are archived, analyzed, and transformed into actionable data. With features like unified communications and a bright, easy to read dashboard, Zoho’s tools are AI-fueled and designed to turn customers into loyal fans of your brand. While Zoho does offer a free 30-day trial, the service starts at $50 per user if you’re billed annually, so the price exceeds that of other CRM platforms. In exchange, though, you get sophisticated, powerful tools that deliver full CRM functionality.
So there you have it…four solid, versatile choices for your company’s CRM. My recommendation is that you take some time to explore all four options. Do a free trial if it’s offered. Set some time aside to get a feel for the interface and its capabilities. Make a list of the CRM functions or tasks that are most important to your company and compare that list against the features of each service. Doing a little homework (come on…I’ve already narrowed the field down considerably!) will benefit you enormously.
And when you finally settle on your CRM provider, take the time to get yourself and all your relevant staff up to speed on how to use the powerful tool you’ve just adopted. Getting buy-in from your employees is vital to the success of your new CRM implementation. When your staff is convinced of the relationship between CRM and the profitability of your company and therefore their job security, CRM becomes an integral part of sales and service, rather than just a nuisance task that needs to be checked off on a list. Effective CRM elevates companies and provides a foundation for sustainable growth. All four of the above CRM solutions are excellent tools to start shaping CRM in a productive, positive way.