These are features that you can expect in virtually every CRM software program or service.
- Database. Provides storage of basic information on customers, contacts, prospects, and other groups that interact with the company. The more advanced the system, the more custom fields are available for each contact, and the greater the ease of customizing the database.
- Importing and Exporting Contact Lists. All CRM services allow you to import contacts in some fashion. Simpler systems allow importing only from text files or CSV files; more advanced systems support imports from vCards and from other CRM programs. If you're doing a lot of mailing or emailing, you'll want to be sure you can easily export contacts to mailing labels, mail merge, and email merge.
- Contact Management. While all CRM solutions provide contact management capabilities, some are easier to use than others. Factors that make a system easier to use include the ability to add custom fields to records, and to sort the database by multiple sort criteria—such as date added to the database, zip code, and last name.
- Customer Service. Almost any CRM program can be configured for customer service use, but some are excellent at it. A good customer service database allows the customer service rep to see rich information about customers' accounts, including what and how often they buy, how often they need assistance, and a history of customer service interactions. This kind of information empowers customer service reps to become sales reps.
- Marketing Communications. How easy is it to use the CRM program for routine marketing communications that are common in all business relationships? That includes thanking someone for making a purchase, responding to routine inquiries for information, reminding customers they have unfinished business with you, sending invoices, sending statements and receipts, and other ordinary types of communication.
- Sales Goals & Goal Tracking. Most CRM software allows you to specify sales goals, and the better programs will track your progress on those goals and send you reminders to complete marketing tasks.
- Alerts & Reminders. It would be unusual if your CRM program did not allow you to set alerts and reminders that notify you when actions are supposed to be taken. The better services will offer mobile alerts and reminders to keep you connected when you're away from your office.
- Reports & Analyses. Typical reports generated by even basic CRM systems include sales and activity reports and contact lists. The easier these are to share with other team members, the better. High-end systems use business intelligence to analyze data and generate reports that can help direct your business, such as a prioritized ranking of prospects or an analysis of the productivity of sales representatives.