Traditional on-premises Customer Relationship Management (CRM) suites were offline. While such offline CRM helps to link and integrate the different interactions with the customer, new-gen cloud-based CRMs take the same functionalities to a whole new level. There are also added benefits like ease of use, reduced costs, centralization of data, round the clock availability, and anywhere access. Such benefits appear to be obvious to organizations, as is evident from Gartner’s finding that 35% of all CRM implementations are now cloud (SaaS) based, and that this will grow to over 50% by 2020.
For those yet to buy into the concept, here are the four biggest differences between cloud based and offline CRMs.
1. Ease of Use – Saves you time
The cloud saves time and energy by sparing the task of ordering software, installing it, and checking for updates. All it takes to install and run a complex CRM is a few mouse clicks to subscribe to a service. The vendor undertakes all routine software administrative tasks and resolves technical glitches, tasks which usually suck away considerable time and effort.
Cloud based CRMs are also flexible compared to standalone versions. With the cloud, it becomes possible to scale up or scale down resources, depending on the workloads.
2. Reduced Costs – Put your money where it hurts the competition
SaaS based CRM, apart from saving time and effort, also saves cost. Organizations are spared the heavy investment it takes to install the software, make available a server, and deploy employees to manage the software. Cloud based CRMs are relatively straightforward and easy to use, sparing the organization training costs as well.
3. Central Depository – All data at your fingertips
Data silos are major stumbling blocks in the way of efficiency and customer delight. Stand-alone CRMs, even while striving to improve customer satisfaction, do little to address the issue of data silos, and as such are only as good as the data fed into it. On the other hand, cloud based CRMs store all customer related data to a central depository. Such centralization goes a long way to eradicate data silos, offering the team the ability to view, share, and work with any data from anywhere. Data stored in a central depository also means that everyone has access to the latest and complete version of the data iterations. In offline systems, version conflicts can derail the entire system.
Centralized data also makes it possible to understand the customer better. It becomes possible to structure customer data better, to understand what customers like, what they do, and what they would most likely buy.
4. Anytime, Anywhere Accessibility – Your competitive edge
One major advantage of the cloud is the availability round the clock from any corner of the world, as long as Internet connectivity exists. This holds true for cloud based CRMs as well. The availability of standalone CRMs are restricted to machines in which the software are installed, and when the server is running.
Needless to say, the accessibility of cloud based CRMs extends far beyond the PCs covered by the organization’s network, and it becomes possible to access the CRM outside office hours, and through mobiles and tablets. This makes the CRM available to salesmen on the field, marketers on campaigns in remote locations, and in a host of other situations, sparing employees the effort and drag to get behind a desk, or request information from somewhere. Such improved accessibility to information can improve productivity, speed up things and help the organization gain a competitive edge.
Do remember though, that while cloud based CRMs are a strategic enabler and offers a host of benefits compared to offline CRM platforms, what ultimately matters is such benefits translating to the customer deriving an enhanced experience. If all these benefits are not attuned to serve the customer better, the advantages are meaningless.
Image Credit: Niek Beck on Flickr