Customer relationship management software is great for sales, but it isn’t a substitute for a customer success platform. In this blog, we’ll talk about why CRM features alone aren’t sufficient for an effective CS strategy. First, we’ll take a look at what a CRM is and what benefits its functionality delivers. Then, we’ll distinguish what CRM software does from what a CS platform does, highlighting why a CRM tool alone isn’t enough to perform CS functions and how you can benefit from coupling your customer relationship management app with a strong supporting customer success platform.
What is a CRM?
A customer relationship management app is software used to store data about prospect and client interactions in a single database to support sales, marketing, and other business functions. The most fundamental CRM software feature is storing contact information. A typical CRM feature list also may include:
- Storing notes on customer marketing and sales interactions
- Scheduling sales appointments
- Recording customer purchase history
- Analyzing sales opportunities
- Managing sales teams
- Tracking, analyzing, and forecasting sales revenue
Some CRM apps are integrated with marketing, customer service, eCommerce, and other services, yielding a more extensive CRM features list.
What Can CRM Functionality Do for Your Business?
CRM capabilities deliver some invaluable benefits to businesses, including:
- Ability to integrate customer data from multiple channels into a single database
- Easy retrieval of data from any device
- Integration of data between CRM apps and other apps, such as marketing platforms
- Support sales teams by empowering representatives to store and access notes on customer history
- Analysis of customer data to qualify, score, and prioritize sales opportunities
- Ability to manage sales teams by matching sales representatives to opportunities
- Automatically scheduling sales meetings
- Support for financial forecasting and planning based on sales data
This wide range of benefits makes CRM software one of the most essential technology tools for sales teams.
How Does a CRM Differ from a CS Platform?
Customer relationship management apps and customer success platforms serve different purposes. CRM apps are designed to manage customer data for sales purposes. CS platforms are designed to deliver satisfying customer experiences to promote post-sales customer retention and pre-sales upgrades from freemium products. In a SaaS context, CS platforms achieve this by providing functionality such as:
- Defining key performance indicators to measure customer success
- Tracking customer progress toward KPI goals
- Leveraging KPI data to trigger automated and manual workflows that promote successful outcomes in accord with best practices
- Promoting upgrades from freemium to premium products
- Monitoring customer onboarding progress
- Tracking customer product usage
- Checking customer satisfaction scores in advance of subscription renewal to promote a successful renewal
- Triggering automated and manual interventions when customer satisfaction falls below target goals
- Identifying upsell and referral opportunities
- Providing success teams with dashboards and reports to guide CS management
These functions encompass the entire customer lifecycle journey and promote long-term customer retention. This gives CS a broader mission than CRM, which focuses primarily on supporting initial sales and is not tasked with promoting successful post-purchase outcomes.
What Are the Challenges of Using a CRM to Perform CS Functions?
Because customer relationship management and customer success management apps both handle customer data, many companies already using a CRM try to use it for CS purposes as well. However, this is not ideal.
A CRM system is a tool for managing the data associated with customer relationships. These applications offer many features, including opportunity tracking and sales management. But a traditional CRM application focuses on the transaction stage of the customer relationship rather than cultivating growth across the entire customer journey. This is a loss because true success—in the form of long-term customer relationships—is obtained after the sale is closed. Customer success teams need the ability to nurture the relationship throughout a customer’s lifetime.
Traditional CRMs also don’t provide the business intelligence (BI) you need to truly understand the customer experience. You need tools that can spot events your customer success team has identified as important indicators of customer dissatisfaction. For example, imagine a customer stops using a feature they were once engaged with. A traditional CRM alone won’t pick up on the change or alert your customer success team to the problem, so your team may be unaware of a sign that a customer might be about to unsubscribe.
While there are excellent CRMs on the market, they work far better when used in conjunction with a comprehensive customer success platform. A good CS platform can sync with your CRM app and add a host of capabilities that enhance any CRM, allowing your enterprise to manage customer relationships long after the initial transaction.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Customer Success Platform?
The right customer success platform breaks customer relationship management down into a series of goals. Since every aspect of customer relationship management is modular, it becomes easier to identify top priorities and address them in real-time.
A quality customer success platform can:
- Create BI without exporting data to a separate data analysis application
- Notify you of important events within the customer’s experience and enable you to take action easily
- Perform automated actions in response to key events
- Provide a glimpse of the health of each customer’s account, making it easier to prevent churn
- Send alerts when customer behavior indicates they may be dissatisfied
Your enterprise can use a customer success platform to define its priorities, choose what information it wants to use or display, decide what customer actions to respond to and how to respond, and much more, all from a single platform.
Go Beyond CRM Features to Optimize Customer Success
Customer relationship management apps perform essential functions for managing and deploying sales data, such as storing contact information, archiving customer history, spotting sales opportunities, and scheduling sales meetings. But while this can help you close the initial sale, you need something more to build long-term customer relationships with SaaS customers.
Customer success platforms take CRM a step further by providing the KPIs, tracking tools, and automated workflows you need to promote customer satisfaction and retention. CS apps can help you promote SaaS customers from freemium users to premium buyers and engage them post-purchase, so they become repeat subscribers and enthusiastic brand advocates.
Totango’s customer success platform can integrate with your CRM tool to provide everything you need for sustainable, long-term customer relationships and revenue growth. Get started for free to see how you can take your SaaS tech stack beyond CRM features to customer success and client retention.