Within the first few years, business owners don’t generally expect too many customers. So Google Sheets, Excel, or sticky notes may be quite sufficient for collecting and managing customer data. Yet as a business grows and more customers come, it becomes difficult to manage all the data. Businesses, therefore, start looking for a new scalable solution: a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
A customer relationship management system enables businesses to arrange, optimize, and synchronize all customer interactions and analyze data throughout the customer lifecycle. The purpose is to enhance customer service, better understand customers, and improve internal processes.
In this blog post, we dive deep into how to build your own custom CRM system and conclude with development costs. But let’s first pause for a minute to talk about why custom CRM development is worth investing in.
With so many ready-made CRM solutions available, you might be a little hesitant to opt for custom development. At Steelkiwi, we believe there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to automating customer interactions.
All companies are unique and have different needs. With ready-made products, you don’t always get precisely what you want, as they focus on covering the needs of a wide audience. On the other hand, a custom CRM is designed for your specific requirements. You can choose what processes to automate and what departments to grant access to what information.
Since CRM systems contain sensitive data such as customer information, details on transactions, and reports, it’s also important to ensure information security and confidentiality.
With custom development, you can craft your CRM with security in mind from the beginning using different mechanisms to keep your system safe. What’s more, custom CRM software is more flexible and scalable than off-the-shelf solutions, so it can grow along with your business.
Before building a CRM system, there are some crucial decisions to make. Below, we provide a five-step guide on how to build custom CRM software so you can make the right choices from the start and avoid costly mistakes.
You should start by defining your business goals for creating a CRM system and prioritizing these goals. This will help you decide on the features that are best suited to your business needs. Your goals in developing a CRM can vary depending on the specifiсs of your business and industry, and may include:
- Storing and managing customer data in a single place
- Improving customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Optimizing marketing and sales processes
- Maximizing ROI
- Improving internal communication
- Getting valuable and detailed insights into customer behavior
- Managing leads
- Managing the customer base
- Optimizing customer service
- Easily navigating lots of customer data
- Generating reports to evaluate sales and marketing performance
Once you’ve determined your goals for CRM development, decide on the type of CRM solution you need. There are three types of CRM solutions: operational, analytical, and collaborative. Each is designed for a different purpose.
An operational CRM system is designed to automate marketing, sales, and service processes. With an operational CRM, you can close more deals, effectively generate leads and convert them into customers, and access customer data like contact details, sales history, and communication history.
Analytical CRM systems help businesses effectively manage customer data and customer acquisition and retention processes. An analytical CRM gives you insights into customer data from different channels so you can see common issues that your customers are facing and discover the effectiveness of your marketing and sales strategies.
A collaborative CRM system, also known as a strategic CRM, focuses on improving teamwork, developing better customer service, and increasing customer satisfaction and retention. With collaborative CRM, communication with customers is synchronized across different communication channels such as email, phone, and social networking platforms.
As you’re likely to have multiple employees using your CRM for different purposes, we suggest adding user roles and permissions. You can include user roles such as C-level executive, marketing representative, sales representative, and customer representative. Each user role will grant access to certain functionality. For example, your sales team can have permission to track customer interactions, update contact lists, create tasks and schedule follow-up reminders, and create contracts and invoices, while C-level executives can be allowed to keep track of sales and marketing metrics like cost per lead (CPL) and cost per acquisition (CPA) to measure team performance.
Another important step is defining features to include in your CRM. Your decision should be driven by your goals, meaning you should focus on the functionality that will best meet your business needs. Although some functionality is appropriate only for some CRMs, other features appear in nearly every CRM system. Below, we list some of the core features of any CRM.
This is the main feature of a CRM system, allowing you to store important data about your customers such as names, email addresses, and social media profile links. There are two ways to collect contact details: manually or automatically via social profiles, email signatures, or email services.
Your CRM should make it easier for you to track your prospective clients. You should be able to see all leads, add information about them, and monitor their activities from first contact to quote to contract.
Your CRM should enable you to set and schedule tasks like follow-ups, meetings, calls, and deadlines and set reminders for your upcoming activities so you don’t miss anything. You can also consider implementing a feature for assigning tasks to other employees or assigning multiple employees to the same task.
To monitor your performance, you can implement a dashboard feature. This will allow you to have an overview of your progress and to-do list. You can consider adding filters (e.g. task, communication channel, time period) so you can find the data you need. There are different ways of visualizing data on dashboards, including with charts, diagrams, tables, and circles.
Multi-device support is becoming a necessity. Users can access, edit, and add new information anywhere anytime via a mobile device. There are two ways to implement this: You can create a native app (for iOS, Android, or both), but it’ll cost you. Or you can build a website that works on any mobile device and pay less for development. Yet it can be quite challenging to use some functionality like reports on a mobile website.
These aren’t the only features you can include in your CRM system. You may also want to implement:
- Invoicing. This feature gives you the possibility to generate invoices, send them to your clients, and track their status (paid, overdue, etc.).
- Third-party integrations. If you use different third-party apps (including analytical tools such as Google Analytics), consider integrating them into your CRM system. This will help you work faster and smoother.
- File storage and sharing allows you to store all files in a single place and share them among departments.
- Pipeline view. To better understand your sales process and see the stages at which your leads and deals are (qualified lead, contact made, proposal presented, quote sent, in negotiation), include a pipeline view.
- Referral tracking. This feature enables you to track referred leads that eventually turned into paying customers.
- A chatbot allows your team to concentrate on customer inquiries that require urgent attention. Chatbots can respond immediately to a customer’s questions and are available around the clock.
- Custom reports. You can create custom filters to get insights that are valuable for your specific processes.
- Sales forecasting. With this functionality, you can predict sales based on prospective deals. This will help you better understand your sales performance and be prepared for worst-case scenarios.
Another big decision to make is whether to build a CRM system for internal use only or transform it into a SaaS app later on. If you decide to go with the latter, make sure you develop a scalable and flexible architecture from the very beginning. Changes in software architecture can cause much pain and cost you an arm and a leg.
It’s difficult to say precisely how much your CRM development will cost. It largely depends on the complexity of the project and the number of hours spent crafting it and can vary greatly, from $5,000 to $50,000 or more.
You’re welcome to message our sales representatives if you want to request a rough estimate for your CRM project or if you have any questions about how to create a CRM. Meanwhile, we suggest that you read the following articles to understand what influences the cost of development and discover the approximate time required for developing your project by calculating the number of hours for implementing each individual feature: