So you may be wondering, just what is a CRM or Customer Relationship Management system? Is a CRM really necessary for your business? I'd like to propose a very simply answer.

A CRM is a database. A collection of records. This database can be a database that you maintain, or a hosted solution, it really doesn't matter. What does matter is how it works for you. A system that allows you to store data about your contacts, your leads, your deals and other relevant information is critical for business success. If you want your business to be organized, to know instantly whether John Doe is a good lead or not, then you need a database.

There are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of ways to store your data and maintain this database. I don't claim that CRMery is the only solution. Nor do I claim that we're the perfect solution for every business. Our goal is to provide you with one of the most intuitive, easy-to-use, clean, and affordable CRM solutions available. We don't like the idea of monthly fees or per-seat licenses. Our CRM is more than a business expense. We believe our CRM is a business investment. What's the difference? With an investment you see a return (hopefully) on that initial investment.

As a result of using CRMery as your database for storing your customer records your business will be more organized and your profits will increase (want more reasons, see our Ten Reasons Why You Need a CRM). We encourage people to look at other CRM systems that are available. I will often tell people of features found in other systems. Sometimes we incorporate those ideas, other times we don't. Having every bell and whistle available is not automatically the best solution. Again, our mission is making a CRM that is incredibly fast, easy to use, and clean in its presentation.

We want to see your business have an incredibly high adoption rate for your sales team and company members using your CRM. We believe our principles will help us accomplish that goal. So, what is a customer relationship management tool? In a single word - it's a database. In reality, a CRM is the tool that helps your business stay organized, understand its customers, track progress, land future deals, report on past history, and grow your business. A CRM is an investment in the future of your company. An investment that can yield a very high return.

Before reading I would caution you that this is not a comprehensive list of reasons. There are many many reasons for a CRM - I simply listed out a few that I have found helpful or that I have personal experience with in the past. You may think of other reasons. My goal is not to provide an exhaustive list, but merely to get you thinking about the value of a CRM and hopefully help you come to the realization that if you have a business, then you need a CRM.

Read more: 10 Reasons Why You Need a CRM

It's one of the worst things to hear about your software when a user says, “I think I've found a bug.” Typically you've spent hundreds of hours developing this system, and it's practically become a part of you. When you hear that someone has found something that doesn't work right it can be both frustrating and discouraging. But I want to say, don't lose heart. Every software has issues, bugs, problems or whatever you want to call them. It's part of the inevitable process of creating something. The key is how they are handled.

Because of the vast differences that exist in server configurations, software versions, and countless other factors there will always be times when something doesn't perform as it should...or in a way the user doesn't expect. One of the keys is to determine what is causing the bug, and whether the problem is truly a bug or rather a specific user's expectation of the software to do something it doesn't which may be considered a feature request.

We have a standard process that we follow when an issue is raised and I thought I would take a minute to share it simply as a “for what it's worth” post. We don't claim this to be the only way or even the best way to handle bug fixes, but we have found it to work well for us.

Read more: Call the Exterminator!

Social CRM. What does that mean? What is involved with a social customer relations management system? These days it seems everything is focused on social networking and friending. How can you use this in your business? There are several ways in which this data can be relevant to you as a business owner.

First, if you listen on social network channels to what is being said about your industry and even more so - your company you may find out some interesting insights. Secondly, utilizing social networks to listen to what your leads want will help you ensure that your product or service is suitable for them and meets the requirements they have. Once you know what your potential customers want you are one step closer to landing them as a customer. Lastly, tracking the social communications of your clients helps you stay more in the loop about the good and bad things they find. Sometimes you may find out you have a problem in your software or program that you never knew existed. Not every bug is reported in a support ticket. If you are actively listening to your customers you can proactively demonstrate your level of commitment to product support and customer satisfaction.

In CRMery we wanted to create a system that would allow you to see those interactions easily. We don't claim to have arrived, in fact, we feel we are just at the very beginning of what we wish to offer, but we have a great start. We have incorporated twitter feeds into all of our lead and contact profiles. Now when you enter the twitter handle for a lead or contact we will automatically pull their latest tweets directly onto their profile and you can easily see what they post.

We know we have a ways to go but this is a start along the path of where we are going and demonstrates the direction we have and a few of the goals we have set for the future of CRMery.

What do you think are the most valuable aspects of a social CRM? How would you like to see them implemented in our CRM for Joomla? Let us know in the comments...or better yet, post them on twitter. (@crmery_)

We'd like to say thank you. We've been getting amazing feedback from the community. Phenomenal customer support and strong loyalty almost immediately. It's incredibly encouraging to hear back from users that the system we've spent hundreds of hours developing is being well-received. We've worked months in the dark (literally…there's not much light at 2AM in the morning) and with only the faint hope that it would all pay off. And we feel that it is. Since our launch a mere month ago we've seen an incredible adoption rate and customer interaction and just general CRMery love from you. And we'd just like to say thank you.

Our Daily Goal

We're working tirelessly to implement new features, and fix the minor bugs that have been uncovered. We hope you are pleasantly surprised with the speed and quality of the support you receive as well as the turnaround time for new feature releases. We know everyone has different ideas and ways they would like to see their CRM work. Our goal is to accommodate as many of those requests as we possibly can. 

A Real-Life Example

To provide a single example of how we handle these I'd like to focus on Acymailing. Not long after we launched, we received a request for an integration with Acymailing. We thanked the user and started asking our beta testers and other early adopters if they would also be interested in such a feature. The response was an overwhelming, yes. We went back to our idea boards and started brainstorming. We felt we had two options, integrate a system like Acymailing or build our own. After several minutes of heated debate and tossing our pros and cons we decided that the best solution was integration of an existing system that was already widely used and accepted by the community. Once that decision was made the rest moved quickly. We outlined how the integration would work (we didn't want to compromise the intuitive, user interface we worked so hard to create) and how to best incorporate Acymailing. Once we outlined the features to include and the UI/UX to accomplish the goal we wrote the code and tested. How long did this take you may wonder? The time from initial request until deployment of a stable version was a mere 3 days. That is the dedication we have to CRMery and to our users' requests. 

The Future

We feel the future is bright. We are eager to show you just how a customer relations management system like CRMery for Joomla can work for you. If you are a customer already, we thank you and we hope this post will be just one more way we provide you with a transparent look into our focus and vision as a company. For us the future is CRMery, the best Open Source CRM, and we hope to see you in it too!

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