What Is Hosted CRM?
The benefits that can be achieved with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution are clear – enhanced productivity, reduced costs, increased revenues, and improved customer acquisition, service, satisfaction, and retention. Yet, for many small and mid-sized businesses, the large initial investment needed, combined with the long, expensive implementations required, make most on-site licensed CRM packages too cost-prohibitive. Additionally, few companies can devote their limited IT resources to installing and configuring hardware and software, testing the application, and supporting ongoing maintenance and upgrades.
Hosted CRM, also known as on-demand CRM, provides a simpler, faster, and more affordable way for businesses to take advantage of powerful technology tools that streamline and automate the way customer interactions are managed across touch-points. With hosted CRM, all hardware and software components are purchased, installed, tested, and maintained by a third-party hosting provider at a remote site. The hosting service provider also stores and manages all customer-related data. Companies need nothing more than a standard Web browser to access and utilize the CRM application and its features.
Key Benefits for Your Company
Hosted or on-demand CRM makes customer relationship management easier and more cost-effective for businesses with IT and budget constraints. It provides all the standard functionality of licensed CRM solutions, as well as the security, reliability and performance companies need to ensure smooth customer operations, without the time and expense associated with on-premise CRM systems.
Most hosted CRM solutions employ a pay-as-you-go pricing model that eliminates upfront costs or initial fees. You would pay only for the services you use, making this approach ideal if you want to avoid wasting money on unused licenses or advanced features and capabilities you simply don’t need. With hosted CRM solutions, financial impact is minimized and ROI is dramatically accelerated.
Additionally, there is no software or hardware required with hosted customer relationship management. So, there are no complex, labor-intensive implementations and no ongoing maintenance and support. Time-to-deployment is shortened, and your application will be up-and-running quickly. And, because little burden will placed on your IT department, your technical staff will be free to devote more time to other important projects.
And, hosted CRM can minimize your training requirements. Because the application and its functions are accessed via an intuitive Web interface, ease-of-use is enhanced, and your staff can work in an environment they are already familiar with.
Does My Company Need Hosted CRM?
A hosted CRM solution is the right choice if your company:
- Requires only basic CRM functionality, and does not need industry-specific or sub industry-specific capabilities, or extensive application customization to support highly-specialized business processes.
- Does not need to make the customer relationship management application available to disconnected users with no Internet access.
- Has limited IT bandwidth, and cannot commit technical resources to deploying and maintaining a CRM solution.
- Is working with a smaller budget, and does not have the ability to pay for user licenses upfront.Your company should also consider a hosted or on-demand customer relationship management solution if you:
Need a fast way to upgrade to a complete CRM application from a PC-based or homegrown contact management package.
- Want a solution to meet your short-term needs while you formulate a long-term customer acquisition and retention strategy.
- Are unsure of how your CRM needs will change, and do not want to commit to an expensive solution that may not meet your future requirements.
- Common Hosted CRM Features
- Most hosted CRM solutions provide all the standard features of in-house licensed customer relationship management packages, including components and modules for sales force, marketing, customer service, and help desk automation. Many applications available through hosting service providers also include comprehensive business intelligence capabilities for forecasting, reporting, and trend analysis.
Additionally, many hosted CRM solutions offer:
- 24 x 7 Web-based access to customer-related data.
- Role-based security, to ensure only authorized access to sensitive customer information Some minor customization capabilities.
- Integration with Web sites, e-commerce applications, ERP packages, and other systems Full training and support services.
What to Look for When Choosing CRM Hosting Provider
Opting for a hosted CRM solution instead of a licensed on-site one means that you will have to relinquish a certain amount of control over your data. Therefore, when choosing a provider to host your customer relationship management application, the integrity of your mission-critical, confidential customer data is of the utmost importance. You don’t want to lose this vital information, or have it fall into the hands of your competitors.
Your hosted CRM provider must have stringent measures in place to protect your data from security breaches. Additionally, they must have procedures to prevent loss of vital data and ensure uptime and information availability during outages and system failures.
- Advanced security, such as support for Secure Socket Layer (SSL) and data encryption.
- 24 x 7 system monitoring.
- Redundant servers.
- Scheduled daily backups.