Customer relationship management (CRM) is a term applied to processes implemented by a company to handle its contact with its customers. CRM software is used to support these processes, storing information on current and prospective customers. Information in the system can be accessed and entered by employees in different departments, such as sales, marketing, customer service, training, professional development, performance management, human resource development, and compensation. Details on any customer contacts can also be stored in the system. The rationale behind this approach is to improve services provided directly to customers and to use the information in the system for targeted marketing While the term is generally used to refer to a software-based approach to handling customer relationships, most CRM software vendors stress that a successful CRM strategy requires a holistic approach. CRM initiatives often fail because implementation was limited to software installation without providing the appropriate motivations for employees to learn, provide input, and take full advantage of the information systems.
There are several products out there that could get the job done, but just like with all product selections first get an understanding of what you would like to do. Based upon that given feature set you’ll be able to decide which products can be eliminated quite easily. Today I’m going to present four products where two are OpenSource products (with community editions) and two from a SaaS (Software as a Service).
Salesforce.com is the worldwide leader in on-demand customer relationship management (CRM) services. More companies trust their vital customer and sales data to salesforce.com than any other on-demand CRM company in the world.
It’s probably the most expensive one at first sight, but it’s got a rich featureset without the need to maintain your own infrastructure…
Zoho has several pricing models but they use a kind of freemium model where the upgraded models are very affordable… Personally I’m using the zoho package where I used to host my own SugarCRM setup.
SugarCRM makes Sugar Community Edition available free of charge, and sells annual subscriptions to Sugar Professional and to Sugar Enterprise. Each product derives from the same code tree, with Sugar Community Edition containing roughly 85 percent of the functionality contained in Sugar Professional and Sugar Enterprise. The products originated on the LAMP stack of Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP, but also run well on other platforms that can deliver Apache, MySQL and PHP (such as Windows, Solaris and Mac OS X). SugarCRM can also use alternative databases such as Oracle. Product functionality includes sales-force automation, marketing campaigns, customer support, collaboration and reporting.
Pricing starts with about 300€ to 900€ a month / user, so it’s quite expensive for an OSS solution.
vtiger CRM is an open source CRM business solution built over LAMP/WAMP (Linux/Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) technologies and other open source projects. The core development team of vtiger CRM is based in Bangalore,India. The project is available in over 15 different languages. vtiger CRM includes sales force automation, customer support & service, marketing automation, inventory management, multiple database support, security management, product customization, calendaring, E-mail integration, add-ons (Outlook Plug-in, Office Plug-in, Thunderbird Extension, Customer Self-service Portal, and Web Forms), and others.
vTiger is a lot cheaper compared to SugarCRM where pricing starts at about 90€ to 140€ / user / year. Here I must say that the installation (sadly) isn’t as smooth as one would expect.