What SMBs Overlook When Managing CRM
By Bob McCool
In today’s highly competitive world, a powerful, dependable CRM is a must for building and managing relationships with existing and potential customers. Without the invaluable customer insights your CRM provides, it could be very difficult to run your business.
Have you questioned how your business would recover without the ability to access your CRM database if your server crashed, was hacked or stolen? Do you know how long it would take to get up and running again?
Is the backup set up correctly and working? Is the server performing at optimal speeds? Are there warning signs that are being overlooked? Is there a recovery plan? The reality is most small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are so busy managing everything, they often find themselves in reactive, troubleshooting mode when it comes to dealing with their technology.
The good news is using a hosting provider is one of the best ways to keep your CRM safe, secure and always accessible at optimal speeds. A hosted CRM simply means that instead of having your CRM database reside on the server in your office, you move your data to a server in a professionally maintained, monitored, highly secured (physically and virtually) environment managed by a hosting company.
A hosted CRM solution is more affordable than business owners think and frankly, a well-kept secret among high-performing SMBs. The benefits extend well beyond eliminating hardware and energy costs, and maintenance hassles. Besides 24/7 support, reduced downtime, increased reliability and enhanced performance, a hosted CRM solution can make it easier to implement a mobility strategy that ensures your staff can access customer information anytime, anywhere.
The data suggest mobility is clearly becoming the future of CRM. According to CompTIA’s 2nd Annual Trends in Enterprise Mobility study, 73% of the 500 IT/business executive respondents said support for field employees via mobility was a key concern. 50% reported improved customer engagement after implementing a mobility strategy implying that being able to support clients anywhere/anytime was beneficial.
In addition to the need for stronger mobility, disaster recovery and security are major concerns for most companies.
Jane Oliverio, a CRM Specialist with AQS, LLC, says “As a GoldMine Solutions Partner, we understand that loss of our customers’ client data could have serious repercussions for their business. Our most successful clients partner with a managed services provider to host their CRM. This ensures that the CRM system is set up according to industry best practices. I’ve seen clients in crisis when their CRM hardware fails and they turn to us to recover the data. In some cases, the backup was set up incorrectly and the data is simply gone. A managed service environment has the controls in place to make sure backups and maintenance jobs succeed, and we can recover data quickly.”
Physical and virtual security can be a challenge for small businesses, particularly in the financial services, real estate, insurance or health care worlds (think HIPAA, social security data, credit card numbers). When clients are evaluating a hosted solution, Oliverio continues, “I am asked more and more about securing sensitive data stored in client databases. With hosting, we don’t have to guess about security. The hardware and data reside in a physically and virtually secure environment. This means the hardware is in a monitored, locked facility, and the data is protected with professional backups, firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software.”
When evaluating a hosting solution, you should expect a solid hosting company to provide data backup, round-the-clock video monitoring, significantly stronger security via a high-end firewall (typically much better than small business owners can establish on their own), and physical protection from fire, water and wind.
If you’re still sitting on the fence about whether to move your CRM to a hosted environment, the writing may be on the wall. If your business relies on your CRM database, you’re uncertain about security of the data or hardware on which it resides, or you have concerns about how it is being managed in-house, you may want to seek out your local hosting company. While enterprises and large firms may have the staff to tackle the job, SMBs may be better off seeking outside, professional help. For many business owners, hiring an experienced and trusted hosting partner may be the best option for managing their CRM.
About the author
Bob McCool is founder & president of arielMIS. Since 1994, arielMIS has provided small to mid-sized businesses in the greater Boulder/Denver, Colorado area with solutions for managed IT services, custom software development, mobility and cloud-based services.