customer relationship management (CRM

)
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Contributor(s): Tim Ehrens
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Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term that refers to practices, strat
egies and technologies that companies use to manage and analyze customer interac
tions and data throughout the customer lifecycle, with the goal of improving bus
iness relationships with customers, assisting in customer retention and driving
sales growth. CRM systems are designed to compile information on customers acros
s different channels -- or points of contact between the customer and the compan
y -- which could include the company's website, telephone, live chat, direct mai
l, marketing materials and social media. CRM systems can also give customer-faci
ng staff detailed information on customers' personal information, purchase histo
ry, buying preferences and concerns.
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CRM software
CRM software consolidates customer information and documents into a single CRM d
atabase so business users can more easily access and manage it. The other main f
unctions of this software include recording various customer interactions (over
email, phone calls, social media or other channels, depending on system capabili
ties), automating various workflow processes such as tasks, calendars and alerts
, and giving managers the ability to track performance and productivity based on
information logged within the system.
Common features of CRM software include:
Marketing automation: CRM tools with marketing automation capabilities can autom
ate repetitive tasks to enhance marketing efforts to customers at different poin
ts in the lifecycle. For example, as sales prospects come into the system, the s
ystem might automatically send them marketing materials, typically via email or
social media, with the goal of turning a sales lead into a full-fledged customer
.
Sales force automation: Also known as sales force management, sales force automa

. A CRM system can help achieve this by automatically tracking all contact and fo llow-ups between both sides.tion is meant to prevent duplicate efforts between a salesperson and a customer.