In my previous post, I explained about the concept of CRM and why it is helpful to collect customer data. Ultimately, we collect customer data in order to perform a segmentation exercise in some way. The goal is, once we understand our customers, by segmenting them under certain criteria, we can offer products and services specifically to their needs and wants. I also recommended a rule that you should not collect the data that you do not intend to use. For example, do not collect customer’s birthday if you do not have a plan to do something special for them.
In this post, I intend to introduce you a hosted CRM concept. The term “hosted” means CRM product providers offer their products and services over the Internet. It means that you do not have to invest in hardware in order to install a CRM package for your company. It also means that you have flexibility to choose on the functions you need to run your business. What you need is an access to the Internet in order to use one of the hosted services. There are a great number of CRM companies who offer services under this model. If you would like to explore in the more details, TJ McCue prepared a good list of service with this article – 9 Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Apps for Small Business. You might also be interested in a list from Shiyuan Deng – Salesforce Alternatives: 5 CRM Services for Small Businesses.
As there are a lot of options, it could create confusion to many small business owners. I would then like to suggest a free, simple solution that you can start with. The name of the solution is clearly inviting – FreeCRM.
FreeCRM is one of the hosted CRM solutions in the market. There are 2 types of services: a free edition and a professional edition. The free edition offers a basic use case unlimited users but limited data storage up to 10MB and limited records to 5,000 records. You also must endure a pretty invasive advertising bar at the top, bottom and left navigation of every screen. The profession edition offers 4 monthly plans depending on features. The cheapest plan is $14.95/month/user. You can see a full list of feature comparison among different plans from this link. If you just start your business or your business is relative small, I would suggest giving it a go with the free edition. As you can see from the below image, creating a new contact is easy and straightforward. Once your business is mature and you start getting more and more customer data, you might want to consider upgrading to the plans that allow you to create campaigns. At that point, you could segment your customer data and send an email promotion to different customer groups.
You can see a full review of FreeCRM from this blog. My final thought on this solution is that FreeCRM is an easy to use online, hosted solution that does not require great efforts to start using it. It has some limitations on the free edition but I do not think you would need to use all the features to start with. As it’s free, I would encourage you to give a try.