CRM software: a complete guide

There are business tools that became must-haves, not options, and a CRM system is one of these. Thus, it is important to understand what are the main types of CRM software, what are the main benefits of a CRM system, how to set up a CRM system, and what features are the key ones for your business. 

Customer relationship management (CRM) isn’t only software, it is a long list of practices and methodologies that are used to manage and analyze customer interactions and customer-brand relationships. All these practices and techniques have been implemented in a CRM system, so you can automate most of the processes concerning customer relationship management. 

But now, let’s deal with it all in order.

What is a CRM system?

As we have already mentioned, CRM meaning is Customer Relationship Management. It relates to both specific practices and techniques used to collect and analyze information, gained from customers, and to a CRM system – a specific software tool.

CRM system is a software tool that allows you to collect customer data across different contact channels and points of contact, including your social media, website, web chats, email, and so on. The main goal of a CRM system is to improve the quality of customer service, enhance customer experience, and help to provide personalized service for every customer. Moreover, the CRM system helps to boost sales performance by helping you use cross-sales and up-sales opportunities more effectively. 

CRM software often includes numerous features, needed to manage lead statuses, customer interactions, and communications. There are different types of CRM software, so let us first deal with them. 

Types of CRM software

Customer relationships management software can be categorized into two groups: CRM systems that differentiate by the main purpose of use and CRM software that differentiates by the type of infrastructure location. 

First of all, let’s discuss what are the different types of CRM system solutions by their purpose.

Collaborative CRM system – this type of CRM system is focused on providing consistent employee experience and powerful and flexible cooperation between team members. Such customer relationship management tools are mostly used to enhance team performance, help employees to exchange information, and work on collective projects more efficiently. Most of its functionalities are focused on providing task management, scheduling, and workforce management features. Such systems are very important for large organizations that need to exchange huge volumes of data between separate departments. 

Operational CRM system – this type of CRM system is used to automate marketing, sales, and customer service. Under marketing automation, we mean that the system can automatically follow up with customers who complete some trigger actions, sales automation means that the system tracks all customer interactions and notifies the team when it is time to move a lead further through the sales pipeline, and customer service automation means a huge variety of self-service options for customers. 

Analytical CRM system – this CRM system type is designed to help managers make data-driven decisions. Analytical CRM system helps to gather, store and analyze customer data from all available contact channels and touchpoints. While an operational CRM system is focused on the automation and improvement of your marketing campaigns, an analytical CRM system is focused on providing you with a clear understanding of how your marketing campaigns work and which of them are more effective. 

Now let us move to CRM systems which differentiate by the infrastructure solution used. So, there are three main types – an on-premise CRM system, and a cloud-based CRM system.

On-premise CRM system, or inbox CRM system, is a solution that is built on your own infrastructure, so you purchase the hardware and software, set it up, and maintain it without any support from the vendor, the vendor provides software only. This solution is inflexible, expensive in the setup stage, and isn’t easily scalable. 

Cloud-based CRM system means that this CRM system uses cloud computing technology as the main technology. All the infrastructure is built in the cloud, so the vendor provides only access to the chosen list of features and the number of seats for employees. Thus, the only thing you need to run such a CRM system is a PC and headphones. Another advantage is cheap and fast setup, and also easy scalability, which made cloud-based CRM systems the most popular type of CRM system in the world. 

Main features of CRM system

Automation of marketing. The CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) can automate your marketing efforts, for instance, it automates follow-up messages sent via email when customers complete some vital interactions. Also, you can automate your SMS campaigns and integrate your CRM system with an outbound call center to perform outbound calling campaigns. 

Sales automation. The CRM system can automate sales by providing agents with vital information about each lead or current customer to enhance the chance of a successful deal, and also the system can move leads through the sales pipeline automatically when customers perform some actions that allow you to define them as prospective customers. 

Communication automation. If your CRM system is integrated with call center software, you can easily automate your communications with customers, including automatic redialing of customers, automated calling campaigns, and so on. 

Workforce optimization automation. Your CRM system can help you manage your team tasks and current workload by sharing tasks, wide use of internal communication tools, and ability to track employees’ scheduling and schedule adherence. 

Lead management automation. CRM system allows you to manage your leads in a faster and more efficient way because of the wide use of automation. For example, some aspects of lead management can be totally automated, like the change of lead status and its position in the sales funnel. 

Human resource management. CRM system also allows you to manage your team information and provide quality assurance, or even build hiring strategies using the CRM system. 

Some CRM system solutions also include AI integrations, API integrations with third-party software, project management tools, and powerful analytics tools. 

Benefits of CRM software

Another level of customer service quality

First of all, you can’t even think about providing personalized or proactive customer service if you don’t have a CRM system. You just can’t collect the needed amount of data and analyze it manually, so there is only one option: if you want to provide really competitive and attractive customer service, you have to use the CRM system. CRM system allows you to understand each customer better, manage customer sentiment and improve customer satisfaction levels without huge effort. This is the main advantage of CRM software, you can know all about your customers and your target audience and optimize your marketing efforts, which means you will achieve better conversion rates and better customer retention scores. 

Wide range of automation tools

What is important for business nowadays? Surely, the modern telecom business is all about automation, and it relates to sales and customer service too. Automation allows allocating human resources for more creative and vital tasks than wasting staff’s energy and time on routine tasks. Automation also allows you to process many tasks faster, without a need to pay any close attention to them. Automation is the future, and the CRM system is the most effective example of a business automation tool. Moreover, automation allows you to boost employee productivity and employee satisfaction, which means you will less suffer from high turnover rates and other issues with your team. 

Data-drive experience

Another important factor that influences the modern business world the most is the data-driven approach to business operations. You can build long-term strategies and plan your business development without analyzing data you receive from customers, customer interactions, and research you do about your target audience, trends, and customer preferences. Data-driven experience is one of the most critical advantages of CRM solutions because you can analyze almost any step of your customers, and what’s even better, you receive all this data automatically and in the most comfortable way – through real-time dashboards or other types of reports. 


Our general recommendations about picking up a CRM system that will be the most suitable for your business include: purchasing cloud-based solutions only, as they won’t generate problems when you will need to scale up your solutions or integrate them with other tools. Secondly, purchase CRM solutions only based on your real business needs, not on anything else. This relates to a type of solution you need – collaborative, operational, or analytical – and to the bunch of features you really need. Finally, always check out the real reviews about any solution you are planning to buy and compare different solutions if you have a few candidates.