A business grows by expanding its customer base and keeping repeat customers. To do this, it has to keep track of leads, add new customers to its information base, and track their activity. This is what Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is for.
The advantages of CRM
A CRM system keeps all your information in one place, organized for easy access and analysis. You can see who your best customers are, what orders are pending, who’s behind in payment, and much more. You can update customers’ contact and shipping information as necessary. You can give them preferred status and select them for special offers based on their history, or flag them as having a poor payment record. If you’re working just from a spreadsheet, it isn’t easy to do all these things.
The result is better customer communication and service. You can resolve issues more quickly and provide the information to employees as needed. If a customer has had a similar problem before, such as a delivery error, a record of past events can help to identify and fix it. Everything goes more smoothly with a good record of past transactions.
Adding CRM to WordPress
WordPress is the most popular tool in the world for creating business websites. Perhaps you’re already using a contact page on a WordPress site to hear from interested people. If you’re collecting the information into a spreadsheet or simple database, that’s a good start, but there’s a lot more you could be doing with it.
Simple forms processing to collect contacts leaves you with a lot of work to do by hand. It works as long as your customer base is small enough, but as it grows, the job gets more difficult. Moving to a CRM system and connecting it up with WordPress saves effort and gives you more ways to use the information.
When potential customers fill in a contact form, the information will go straight into the CRM. It can send an automated email response, refer the information to the appropriate department based on the request type, or add the prospect to an electronic or physical mailing list.
If you have an e-commerce site under WordPress, you may be able to integrate it with CRM. This will let you update the customer’s order history and retrieve any special information about the customer.
Plugins are available which provide CRM capability entirely within WordPress. Their functionality tends to be limited, so they’re best suited for very small businesses that want a little more than a spreadsheet. More serious businesses will want separate CRM.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Dynamics is a popular and trusted family of CRM systems. It’s available in both on-premises and cloud versions, with pricing packages for businesses of all sizes. Both versions have rich feature sets, including:
- Customized reports
- Contact and lead management
- Sales partner management
- Analytic tools
- Role-based security
- Email integration
It works easily with other Microsoft products. The Dynamics 365 bundle combines Dynamics with Microsoft’s ERP software and Office 365 integration. As your business expands, you can move to a more comprehensive software package.
Integrating WordPress and CRM
WordPress plugins are available for integrating CRM software packages. This can be a matter of just accepting form input, or more complete integration with e-commerce.
If you have an e-commerce system under WordPress and want to do more with it, you can integrate it with the CRM system. You’ll get access to more ways of using customer data than the e-commerce plugin offers by itself. Analytics will give you a better sense of what’s working right and what your customers want.
Gravity Forms, a popular forms management plugin for WordPress, offers a Microsoft Dynamics add-on. It simplifies creating forms for leads and contacts, eliminates duplicates, and assigns contacts to a designated owner.
Plugins aren’t the only way to go. Web-based integration through sites like Zapier let a business set up forms that will send their information to a server, which will use the Dynamics API to add the information. This approach requires some expertise in form design.
Businesses that are rapidly growing may want to develop a custom add-on that will interact with the CRM in exactly the way they want. This is a more expensive option, but it can provide capabilities which off-the-shelf plugins don’t offer.
Putting an e-commerce site together with CRM is more challenging, but it can be done. WooCommerce offers an extension to connect to Microsoft Dynamics through Zapier. For other e-commerce plugins, some custom software work may be necessary.
Use the power responsibly
Maintaining a CRM system gives your business a responsibility. Leaking customer information is bad for public relations. The software needs to have solid security features, it needs to be deployed securely, and employees need to understand how to handle the information safely. A well-established, reliable system, such as Microsoft Dynamics, provides features to let employees access only the information they need and keep everyone else out.
The combination of WordPress and Microsoft Dynamics CRM will provide your business with many opportunities to use customer data creatively and expand its reach. INTELLAM has solid experience in configuring and customizing CRM systems so that you can get the most out of them.