Published: December 7, 2020
18 min read
Last updated: May 2, 2022
In this article, you'll learn:
👆 When Custom CRM Might Suit You Better Than Pre-Packaged One
💻 Types of CRM
✅ What to Think of Before Developing a CRM Software
⚙️ Features of a CRM Software
The globalization process allows companies to grow quickly — have branches in various countries, hire more employees, and, of course, work with the everyday increasing number of clients.
Thus, with this crrrazy workflow, it may appear complicated to take control of all processes.
To make it easier, many companies use different CRM (Client Relationship Management) software.
A great example of CRM software with user-friendly design (image by Nikolay K.)
In fact, 91% of businesses with more than 11 employees use CRM software.
Taking all benefits into account, let’s find out why exactly many businesses are interested in building a CRM, how it works, and what functions and features it should have.
Hold the line to find the answers :)
First of all, you should know that there is pre-packaged CRM software on the market.
Basically, it’s a ready-to-use set of CRM features that is available for everyone on the market.
You might need it if this set of features fully meets your business’ goals you want to reach with the CRM, or you’d like to get to know how it works yourself before allocating the budget for a custom one.
Salesforce software with well-structured CRM design (shots from Salesforce)
However, many companies prefer custom CRM solutions for several reasons.
Case # 1:
If you use various integrations, let’s say, for emailing, IP telephony, Social Media, and messengers, the pre-packaged CRM might not be adapted for them.
Thus, to keep working with third-party services within the CRM, it’s most likely that you’ll need to build your own CRM.
Table feature in the CRM to structure the workflow (image by Niclas Ernst)
Of course, you could leave it the way it was, and don’t integrate such services into your custom CRM software.
However, if you do so, you might miss the most useful thing about CRM — all information is stored and structured in one place.
Basically, it’s the №1 reason for CRM implementation. Not to use a whole lot of different services and office tools (Google Sheets, Google Docs, etc.) separately, but to have it all at hand.
Case # 2:
Pre-packaged solutions are made to target the widest audience possible.
Thus, the more features they add to meet the demand of all business types, the more of them they’ll be able to cover. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
However, when buying or subscribing to pre-made CRM software, you don’t pay for the number of features you’ll need. You pay for the whole offer.
It’s like paying for a pizza when you just need some cheese.
Custom CRM solutions will have nothing but what you add to it.
So it’s more beneficial in the long run and will perfectly meet your business needs.
Case # 3:
Normally, packaged CRM would have a certain number of templates for the design, layout of buttons and tabs, and maybe even the number of it.
Thus, it can be not enough or not as convenient as a custom one could be for your team.
Dedicated CRM will be completely suitable for your company and fully match your wishes.
Besides, think of custom CRM as a kind of uniqueness.
Customized CRM software (image by Mat Przegietka)
Let’s say, you use CRM where you can set the emailing system. Your competitors do the same.
Can it happen that both of you will use the same emailing template? Yes.
It can result in you and your competitor having a similar emailing design or the same structure.
That means a loss of uniqueness, reputation, and probably you both will lose a potential customer who’ll receive such an email.
Sure thing, it’s not something that would happen at every turn, but still not the most useful situation for your brand.
To get the most out of CRM implementation, you should deeply understand which types of such software there are on the market.
This type of CRM is intended to help businesses automate the tasks mainly in the spheres of marketing, customer service, and sales.
Examples of such systems are call and contact centers & data aggregation systems.
As for the sales part, it helps to generate leads, convert them into sales prospects, assign leads and tasks to the managers.
What is specifically important for marketing purposes, operational CRM analyzes the customers’ behavior and the information about them to have a clear picture of what the target audience looks like.
Speaking of customer support, this type of CRM helps to set automated responses to clients’ requests and store all information about every client.
Mostly this type of software is used by companies in the retail, financial, healthcare, and real estate industries. But of course, there are no limitations in terms of the industry — it all depends on your business goals.
The main purpose of this type of CRM is building and maintaining long-term relationships with customers.
Basically, it centralizes and structures the information about clients and makes it accessible when needed at a couple of clicks.
Strategic CRM (image by Axel Gillino)
You’re having a phone call with a person. All you know is their phone number.
But you don’t remember if you’ve already spoken to them, if so, what you’ve discussed or agreed.
Here is when the CRM comes to help.
When the call comes in, the system automatically looks up the number and provides you with all information you have about this client — all the details they’ve mentioned.
It can be anything — saying that their dog felt unwell (you ask how their dog is), maybe some family events like someone’s anniversary — you use all of it to create a more personalized customer experience.
Not to mention the basic information like what you’ve agreed or sold to them.
Imagine offering a client a product which they already paid for and have been using for a month now. Pretty awkward, right?
The concept of it is to help businesses behind the scenes by analyzing data (sales, returns, retention rates, email subscription, etc.).
Analytical CRMs automatically provide various statistics from customers’ activity reports to their behavioral predictions and data mining.
Analytical CRM — sales analytics example (image by Dibbendo Pranto)
It’s quite an important one since statistics is something that’s essential to make progress and improve any process in a company.
If sales decrease, how do you know what items are the reason, what locations start to buy less, and much more detail?
By doing statistical analysis. And here’s the crucial part.
The point is that by doing it manually, you’ll spend much more time compared to having automatically-collected data with recommendations at hand.
Besides, it helps to significantly improve user experience — by gathering data about clients from multiple sources analytical CRMs help to build up customer profiles and provide more personalized services.
Finally, it’s a great tool for optimizing your marketing campaigns.
By understanding where and why you need improvements, what is working and what’s not based on provided reports, you can better structure your marketing expenses and evenly develop every sphere of your business.
This type of CRM is about improving communication between departments within your company and teamwork in the first place.
Of course, a well-organized teamwork system is a key to success — each department has something to teach and tell another one.
Collaborative CRM example (image by Valery Pevnev)
Typical things such CRMs allow employees to do is discuss something collectively within group chats, share boards with tasks, send various insights and reports, leave comments, and help each other out when needed.
However, don’t take these types as something separate. They can be combined in any way you need to create the most suitable for business goals and a multi-functional solution.
In most cases, a well-structured plan plays a big role in whether the project will be successful or not.
Thus, before going into details of the features part, we’d like to recommend you think about a couple of things that will significantly influence your development process.
This is one of the most essential steps in terms of custom CRM development.
Business goals you want to reach by implementing CRM into the workflow will impact the price for the design, type, or type combinations of the CRM you need. Most importantly, it’ll determine the type and number of features you’ll need.
Long story short, it’s something that will lead the whole process.
Business goals are extremely important when building a custom CRM (image by Alina Asayonak)
But how to set the business goal to match the type of CRM?
Don’t worry, we got your back. One of the best things you can do is to think of the points you want to strengthen with the CRM.
For instance, the logic can be as following:
Even if you don’t have any CRM, you most likely have some manually-written reports ➡️ Look at them, analyze what can be organized better.
Let’s say, you have amazing feedback on customer support service but the sales take the dust.
What can be wrong?
You have a poor conversion rate from your advertising campaigns
Use of analytical CRM to understand your clients’ behavior better
You lack time for certain tasks because other ones take too much time, and you believe it to be the reason for falling sales.
Use operational CRM to automate the ones that can be automated and you can focus on optimizing other things instead.
So yeah, thinking this way might be helpful in terms of determining the goals for your CRM implementation.
Some Data Privacy & Security regulations may limit your ability to collect specific information on your customers — may it be their address, personal life details like relationship status, etc.
For example, you will likely have to pay attention to such regulations as PCI DSS, GDPR, PIPEDA, and others.
Besides, be extremely careful with the data of clients from other countries.
For example, while working with GDPR, regardless it was created by the EU, it’s valid for organizations all over the world if they collect data about people in the EU.
How to Make Sure Your App or Website is HIPAA, PIPEDA & GDPR Compliant
Depending on the type of information you store and work with within the CRM, the strength of security may and most likely will vary.
Conversely, the type of business you do will define which certificates you might need additionally.
Healthcare, banking, legal, real estate, and many others — all businesses in such fields can demand a bit extra in terms of security.
Security is of high importance for CRM software development (image by Aleksandar Savic)
To meet the requirements, you could use additional security features.
One of such features is end-to-end encryption (E2EE) — a system of communication where no one can monitor the network — neither hackers, nor the government, and nor the company that facilitates the communication (if it’s not you), can see the content and details of the action done.
In this section, we’ll review features to add to build a CRM solution.
However, as you already know, there are several types of CRM and, consequently, different parts of the workflow they serve for.
We’ve divided the workflow into several parts and listed features depending on what part of workflow they help to optimize.
CRMs can help you automate team management.
Cooperation, a great communicational system, and transparency of the workflow are an integral part of successful work.
Features for the Team Management Flow deal with communication between employees and the alignment of the tasks.
They can include:
This list can be useful if you add a bit more details about each persons’ position in the company.
It can be their department, position, maybe they’re temporary contractors, working hours, and so on.
Employee list in software with great CRM design (image by Orysya Orhanista)
You can add a search bar to look up for a specific employee and add filters by the first letter of their name, department, position, etc.
On this page, you can manage and access information (personal details included) about every employee in the company.
Here you can duplicate the department, position, and working hours.
Additionally, you might need to access their tasks, contact information (corporate email, phone number), and personal information that is at the disposal of the company.
Employee profile in the Bitrix24 CRM (shots from Bitrix24)
If you have an international company or work remotely, you might need to know things like location, postal code, local time, and so on.
It’s also a great idea to add a private chat feature that’s accessible right from the personal page.
An in-built shared calendar is a great tool to use in CRM since it helps to significantly improve the workflow in terms of cooperation.
By knowing what and when is due for each department and employee you can better structure your own work and synchronize the deadlines.
To create your own CRM for your company’s teams, you might add an in-built calendar (image by Amit Jakhu)
It’ll be great if there will be an opportunity to leave comments and chat within the calendar.
You can also mark dates when someones’ on vacation or business trip.
A shared calendar is just the place to mark team building and group meetings, briefings, company auditing — general events that are related to most employees.
Apart from chats within other features, you can add it as a separate one.
Besides, it’s a great idea to enable video/audio calls in CRM to cover all communication needs.
Sharing files, leaving comments, and similar features could be extremely useful as well.
Client management improvement is one of the most common reasons why companies develop CRM.
Sure thing, that depending on the type of business you run, you might need more or less features for this Flow.
But generally, the features include:
First of all, most companies create different lists for different categories of customers.
Let’s say, you sell online business courses. Thus, you might need 4 types of lists.
These are a “Hot” list — first people to contact, then depending on the results of the call, you move a customer to “Sold”, if you didn’t get a hold of them — to “Warm”, and if the answer was No — to a “Cold” list.
Another example of tabs structure (image by Anton Pecheritsa)
Sure thing, the tabs can expand and shrink, and generally, there are no limitations.
During the process of using CRM, you’ll figure out the perfect combination of tabs that optimize your customer flow.
As with Team Management Flow, you can add a search bar and filters by name, location, and many others depending on the type of business you run.
This feature is intended to give you in-depth information about the client.
It can include name, location, family status, contacts, their previous orders (if there are any), their special wishes, and so on.
Customer profile in a CRM (image by Alex Tsibulski)
You can use this feature to provide a more personalized customer experience.
For example, if a customer mentions that their dog isn’t feeling well, you might want to note that and ask how their dog is during the next follow-up call.
Besides, don’t rush to delete contacts and “Cold” lists since it may be No just for now. But in a couple of months, things can change and it’ll be your new customer.
You should remove them from the list only in case they ask you to do so — in this case, it’s your legitimate duty.
Another popular thing to consider during CRM software development is a financial part of the workflow — sales and accounting automation and optimization.
Apart from the automation itself (meaning, the sales and transaction are automatically kept a record of), it can consist of:
This is some kind of a summary of what your overall sales statistics look like — a general tendency in form of a graph, revenue, maybe a pie diagram with product sales percentage, etc.
To create a CRM with great A & S Flow, you might use diagrams like the pie diagram of clothes sales here (shots from Visme)
This is also a place to put tabs with transaction lists.
They can be structured by incoming and outcoming transactions, by purchases, returns, and company’s expenses, and so on.
It’s a great idea to add a search bar and filters by date, amount of money transferred ($0-50, $51-100, $101-200, etc.), sender’s name, location, etc., so that if you’re looking for something specific, you don’t spend much time on scrolling.
The concept is the same as previous — to present the data. But here it’ll be more specific.
You can access statistics of sales of all products you have and each purchase — from the very first to the very last one.
It should contain all the details needed. Name of the customers, date, maybe feedback if there’s any, number and types of items or whatever it is you sell.
And from here you could make transactions for these purchases accessible.
To perfectly manage your accounting, try to keep the screen informative and well-structured yet minimalistic.
It can include details of both sender and recipient, date, location, amount of money, payment option details (credit card, PayPal, etc.).
What’s important is that you should be able to structure this data, export it, filter by different indexes to make it not cold numbers but a prepared material for the analysis.
To optimize the workflow in terms of assigning tasks and managing the distribution of them between the teams, you can use CRM with the following features:
Remember we were talking about the in-built calendar where you can check all the tasks with deadlines?
Well, this is kind of an extended version of it which is fully dedicated to task management.
To create a CRM that improves cooperation you might use a shared dashboard (image by Dmitry Lauretsky)
On the dashboard, you should see all the tasks for a certain period of time.
You can add different tabs like “Done”, “In progress”, “For the next month/week”, etc., and move the task from one tab to another once its status has changed.
This is where you’ll access the detailed information regarding the task.
The deadline, responsible individuals, the point of the task, progress, comments — all of it should be accessible from the screen.
On both screen and dashboard, there should be a little button (usually, it’s presented in the form of +) “Add new task”.
There you might need to write the description, add people to the task, set a deadline, maybe divide it into several parts, add a progress bar, and so on.
What is CRM software designed to do? Generally, help you increase sales by providing a better user experience and process automation. Will numbers without any analysis help you do so? Most likely, no.
That’s why another important feature is analysis of statistics and its reporting.
However, proper conclusions based on data and following actions can significantly help you with costs, sales, marketing campaigns, and other processes optimization.
To automate the processes of data analysis, you can use CRM software that’ll send you reports with recommendations, market strengths, and weaknesses, and so on, depending on what you need — CRM is a gamechanger in this sphere.
The main features are the following:
This feature is intended to automate the gathering of the data, its further analysis, and report generation based on previous steps.
Depending on what this report is for — meaning, it can be for a different department or for a specific employee — the report will vary. And not only the initial data which is a base for a report will change, but even the highlight points will be different.
CRM report (image by Masum Parvej)
Let us explain. Imagine that you’re requesting the sales report.
For the sales department, the main point would be to highlight the dynamics of sales, what products are purchased most and least at a certain period of time, returns, etc.
Long story short, things that are important for marketing improvements.
But for an accounting department, this isn’t the crucial part. Most likely, they’ll need a focus on revenue, expenses, and transactions related to these sales, which makes sense taking this department’s responsibilities into account.
Thus, you can either use the same data but for different reports, or create an overall report taking the needs of all departments into account.
This is quite an important part of your marketing campaign and the Sales & Marketing department in general.
CRM can automatically analyze customer behavior and help you structure & share the received data.
It can analyze the time users spend on your website on average, retention rates, conversions, and many others.
It’s better to have statistics and reports in any form of infographics instead of having to deal with sets of numbers.
A bar chart for CRM software development (image by Masum Parvej)
The main reason why it’s easier is that it better represents the dynamics which helps you estimate the progress.
Sure thing, you might already use some third-party services to automate business processes.
What’s great about custom CRM software is that you don’t have to give up on using these services, you can just integrate them into the CRM.
It can be:
As you can see, all of these features from various flows aren’t mutually exclusive — they’re rather complementary.
For instance, Accounting & Sales Flow perfectly matches features of Analytical Flow.
So, finding the perfect combination of features is the key to successful CRM software implementation.
These were the main steps you should take to develop a custom CRM software.
To help you better structure the information, let’s briefly summarize what we’ve covered in this article:
So, for custom CRM development:
If you have any more questions on how to create your own CRM, feel free to reach out to us! We’ll find a way to help you!
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