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Track Your Relationships in CRM -- Whether or Not You Have "Customers"



Many businesses use customer relationship management (CRM) software to track sales activities, marketing and customer service, but CRM is a great tool for tracking other relationships as well. My company InfoStrat is focused on work for government agencies and non-profits, neither of which have customers per se, but they do have relationships with citizens, stakeholders, members, vendors, grantors, grantees and many other types of relationships with both organizations and individuals.

CRM products such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Salesforce were designed to track people, organizations, relationships and all the activities that are associated with these relationships.  If you expand your view of what relationships you can track, you will see that cases used to track customer service inquiries may be used for many other types of cases.  We have used cases to track social services eligibility determination and for managing constituent inquiries or reports of broken stoplights or park benches reported by citizens.  We have used CRM for tracking criminal investigations, subpoena requests, victim notification, employee on-boarding, and grant management

Microsoft has used the term "xRM" to describe how CRM can be applied to other types of relationships beyond customers.  You can take advantage of the millions of dollars in software R&D that are being spent by the CRM vendors to add new capabilities such as mobile apps, artificial intelligence (AI), and integrations across multiple products such as Office 365, SharePoint, Dropbox and more.

Using CRM is often a faster, less expensive and less technically risky approach to creating a system than traditional custom development.  Many changes can be made using configuration rather than programming, such as adding fields or creating notifications and other automated workflows. At the same time, using a CRM system can be easier to tailor to your unique requirements than buying an off-the-shelf product and changing how your business operates to match the software package.

You may be surprised how many of your business requirements can be met by adopting CRM as the central, shared repository to track your relationships. 


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