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Are You Customer Friendly?

Mobile and cloud-based technologies make customer relationship management increasingly flexible

Can your current customer relationship management (CRM) system leverage all your touch points into a coherent story? Can your IT staff keep up with the rate your needs are changing? Can you support customer-facing employees on the road? Do you make it easy for customers with rising expectations to do business with you? These days, cloud-based and mobile CRM applications may provide you with ways to answer "yes" to each of those questions.

With CRM applications "in the cloud," a third party owns, hosts and maintains the software, which you access through a standard Web browser. Setting up a cloud-based system is usually speedy, and you won't need in-house IT staff to maintain and improve it. Most systems are compatible with common ERP and accounting packages, too. In addition, the hosting company continuously upgrades the system, so it changes with the available technology, at generally minimal cost to subscribing companies.

Cloud-based systems increasingly offer mobile interfaces, or smartphone or tablet applications so employees in the field can get access to customer and product data from nearly anywhere. That's especially important if they need answers or quick response when they are at a customer site.

These apps can deliver alerts to people in the field when information is logged at the home office, too. For example, critical staff can get immediate notification if a large order is cancelled or if a part is needed on a service call.

Employees with mobile apps can also log activity, such as a completed delivery or a service call, so all stakeholders know what's happening immediately. A mobile system with bar-code capture reduces data entry time significantly.

You can find a roundup of the Top 10 Software Vendor Reports on CRM systems at


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