CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and by definition is an approach to managing a company's interaction with current and potential future customers.
At Highrise, CRM is what we do. So you'd think all of the uses and benefits of a CRM would be obvious to us. But when I first joined the company a year ago, our new team was actually still getting up to speed on CRMs and all the things involved with running a business and we weren't using it internally all that much.
We don't have a sales team and aren't out there doing 'deals' to sell Highrise, and the more general benefits were not immediately obvious to even us. Sure, we tried to keep notes on customers when we did interviews or research, and we had random tasks we'd assign to ourselves or each other. But like other teams, we all sort of came in with our own tool preferences and using Highrise felt like a bit of a stretch.
We weren't using it day to day.
When we switched over to using it for our support help desk, all of that changed. Suddenly our team was in Highrise constantly. We had customer details, the history of our conversations, tweets, etc. all right there. Quickly a CRM became insanely valuable for us as a team.
And from there what I've found is that with use (and enhancements), we keep finding new ways to take advantage of all the things a CRM can do for you. While some of the specifics may not relate to your business, here are a few uses that apply to many small businesses.
When I worked at other companies, recruiting was a pain. We'd have a shared folder to store resumes, and an excel spreadsheet to track interviews, etc. But that meant someone going through incoming emails, processing cover letters and resumes, and manually moving files over for everyone to view.
There’s software specifically built for such things, but most CRMs are also ideal tools for recruiting. You can pipe all of the responses into the app. Anyone on the hiring or interview team can review, comment on, and tag candidates as needed. You can respond back individually or in bulk to candidates when ready.
2. Job Searches
The other end of recruiting works just as well. Track versions of your resume throughout time in a project/folder (cases in Highrise). Use email templates to get a head start on a cover letter based on the last one you sent (which you'd then want to personalize for a particular company and position), set up tasks for interviews, take notes from company research and have your back and forth communication with all of the individuals from a particular company in one place.
3. Help desk
As we found, since CRMs are great for group communication, you can often use them as a simple help desk. Forward customer emails to the CRM. Respond directly from within to record the entire history with each customer without sending multiple responses from different team members.
When we first switched to using Highrise as our help desk last year, we were nervous and thought we'd miss our old tool created specifically for that purpose, but the transition truly was seamless (well, after an only slightly bumpy start) and we haven't looked back since.
Again, there are entirely separate products built just for the purpose of email marketing and your CRM may not have fancy templates, or drip campaigns, but many CRMs come with built in bulk email that allows you to create templates, email your contacts, and track the success of your 'campaign' directly in one place.
Use it to follow up with new customers or to segment your customers with specific messaging or to send out monthly newsletters to groups of your (opted in) contacts to update them on the latest news, products, events, etc.
5. Annual taxes or recurring budgets
Cases are especially useful for things that occur on a regular basis, but not often enough that you'd remember otherwise. Like taxes or annual budgets. You can store all of the receipts and forms, etc. in your CRM. And any communication with your accountant, bookkeeper, and team internally. This way members of your team can access the data easily at any time as needed.
We use cases for everything from tracking our state registrations for the company to our monthly metrics to feedback for a specific new feature.
6. Event coordination
Cases can also be used to organize events, such as when the entire team is traveling for an offsite, or if your company hosts a conference. You can assign all of the documents, emails, updates, etc to that one case so everything can easily be referenced as needed.
7. Personal organization
While using a CRM for your business, take advantage of the personal organization aspects as well. Track your own tasks and to dos, organize your children's activities, your car checkups, your handymen and service appointments, and personal taxes.
Create labels for holiday cards so you don't have to hand print each one. Most CRMs have privacy for individuals in case your whole team doesn't need to see when you're going to your daughter's next soccer game.
These days I spend my whole day between just a few tools and our CRM is by far the biggest one:
If you and your team are feeling like things are just a little out of hand. Like you could use something to bring everyone together on the same page and really get organized, it may be time to check out a CRM and see what uses you can find.
If it sounds like a CRM might help your business, check out Highrise today. Try it FREE for 30 days and then get 50% off your next month with coupon code: HRLIVECHAT.