What is a Cloud CRM?

Customer relationship management is the process of organising and making sense of customer interactions across an organisation by collecting and analysing relevant customer-related data. This information is housed in a specialised database, known as a customer relationship management (CRM) platform. Increasingly, these are hosted in the cloud, providing ease of access, speed of processing and the scalability required to meet an organisation’s changing needs.
Cloud Based CRM
 

What is cloud-based CRM software?

Customer relationship management software is hosted by the provider in the cloud and is accessible through the internet. This kind of software solution is also known as SaaS (Software as a Service). This hasn't been the case as CRM platforms may also be stored locally in the organisation. Unlike a cloud-based CRM solution, on-premises CRMs require a larger upfront cost and ongoing personnel requirements.

The difference between traditional on-premises CRM and cloud CRM

With traditional on-premises CRM, the organisation itself will host and operate the servers and network that house the customer database. In addition to providing the infrastructure, organisations will need to pay for and manage all of the resources needed to run the CRM when it’s on-premises. In this arrangement, the organisation will need IT staff to maintain the systems and is looking at significant upfront costs to create and manage the CRM platform.

By contrast, a cloud-hosted CRM means the provider manages all the infrastructure to host and run the system. The organisation will access the CRM through a web-based application or dashboard through an internet connection. In this arrangement, the organisation does not face the upfront cost to create and host the entire system and is not responsible for updates, security management and maintenance.

What SaaS and cloud offer?

A cloud-hosted CRM platform is a type of software-as-a-service (SaaS). CRM is just one type of SaaS and there is now a wide range of business software and systems that are hosted through an external provider, who is responsible for the provision and management of the web-based programs.

Cloud CRM platforms are accessible through internet-connected devices and provide powerful tools for managing a wide array of customer interactions with both existing and prospective customers.

When it comes to integration, the CRM system will need to connect each application with the platform to ensure the free flow of all data points to provide a complete picture of the organisation and its customers. A cloud-hosted CRM is a powerful way to create a complete 360-degree view of the customer with connected data feeds from within the organisation and outside via social feeds and other sources.

Using a SaaS CRM, the provider acts as a partner to the organisation, supporting its need for customer insights while also being responsible for the maintenance and upgrades as part of the platform service it provides.

Organisations of any size can find that a cloud-hosted CRM is a benefit to their business. Today every organisation, from small businesses to large enterprises and public sector organisations, need to foster excellent customer relations and a CRM platform sits at the heart of it.

Benefits of cloud-based CRM

A cloud-based CRM has many benefits that range from improving effectiveness and productivity in customer interactions to ease of upgrades and scalability. Most importantly, it enables the organisation to hone its customer service offering while improving the efficiency of internal processes.

Ease of installation: Not having to provide the hardware, servers and security allows organisations to rapidly adapt customer strategies without the upfront costs and burden of developing these in-house.

Ease of operations: Organisations don’t need to cover the hardware and maintenance costs because this is managed by the CRM provider. This in turn reduces the infrastructure burden on the organisation while also allowing for ease of adaptability as circumstances and needs change over time.

Ease of collaboration: Every member of an organisation can have access to the relevant customer information when they need it, whether in-house or working remotely, ensuring no one is out of the loop. With online operations, it’s easier to have a connected, up-to-date workforce which allows the organisation to be more responsive to changing customer needs and behaviour as they arise.

Flexibility: A cloud-based CRM is a flexible option that ensures there is scalability and room to grow as the business changes and develops. A cloud-run CRM offers the tools and features available when needed to adapt to changing customer needs and behaviours.

Enhanced security: Security can’t be overlooked in any part of the organisation and that includes the CRM. With a platform run in the cloud, dealing with backups, bugs and any incidents is rapid and seamless.

What can cloud CRM be used for?

A CRM is only as effective as its features. When it comes to assessing the effectiveness of a system to manage customer engagement, there are some important features that will support better business outcomes.

Customer information: First and foremost, a CRM needs to be populated with all of the relevant customer information that is required to understand and connect with customers. Additionally, recording contacts, meetings and even relevant documents in the CRM will support seamless, intelligent engagement across all teams.

Platform integrations: The CRM will be more powerful if it has the functionality to integrate with external data sources and connect with business tools such as email and website hosting systems. Flexibility and customisation will play an important role in ensuring you are able to get the most out of your CRM tools.

Dashboard: The dashboard is like the driver’s seat where every employee can quickly and easily dial-up and view customer insights across a broad range of metrics and data points. The easier to use, the more effective the system because relevant insights can be discovered and acted upon by anyone viewing the data.

Automation: An intelligent CRM should lift the burden of more repetitive actions by enabling automation that boosts productivity and improves customer engagement. The ability to streamline workflows is a powerful feature of a CRM like Salesforce.Sales funnel management: Tracking and measuring campaigns, recording, scoring and tracking leads through the pipeline, managing conversions and analysing forecasts and more should all be simplified with a CRM.

Data management: A CRM is the storehouse for the organisation’s valuable customer data, and as such it must have robust data protections in place. This should include data backup provisions and security protocols to protect sensitive customer and organisational data.

How to choose a cloud CRM

The process for choosing a cloud-based CRM should involve several important steps to ensure you make the most of this powerful platform.

Identify the requirements
What are the organisational needs and goals? These need to be clearly defined so that they can be used as criteria when comparing different CRM options.

Define the budget
No one has unlimited funds, so defining the budget will help to determine the wish list of features you need while weighing the costs when comparing different CRM offerings.

Understand the features and benefits
Bells and whistles are exciting, but it’s important to be clear about what the CRM offers and how these will help the organisation meet its goals and objectives.

Choose the right partner
It’s crucial to choose the right partner for your cloud-based CRM solution. Be sure the partner you choose can help you meet the needs of the organisation as they are today and in the future as things evolve over time.

Salesforce is the world’s most trusted customer relationship management (CRM) platform. We help your marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT teams work as one from anywhere — so you can keep your customers happy everywhere. Try a cloud CRM and start your free trial today!
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