The Unified Future of Small Business CRM

software update or the solution to a common customer support issue is information worth sharing. A unified CRM platform should let employees post announcements internally or blast news to customers.

3. Do CRM the right way or don't do it at all. In the movie The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi gives his student Daniel a simple choice: "Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later, get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do 'yes' or karate do 'no.'"

CRM is exactly the same. If your team only sometimes records information, interactions, and project updates in a unified CRM system, that system becomes useless. The data will become old, decrepit, and misleading rather quickly. When a CRM system is used without exception, it bears fruit.

So do CRM, or don't do CRM. But if you do CRM, pick software that your team wants to use. Using the wrong software will make CRM seem like a burden. If the user experience is choppy, if following projects is difficult, or if accessing and changing information on the go is impossible, employee buy-in will crumble.

Pick a system that makes it easy for your team to maintain that commitment. CRM is never one-size-fits-all—you need to customize a CRM system so that it conforms to your workflows. You shouldn't have to meet your CRM system halfway.

The rise of unified CRM systems for SMBs will save many companies that feel trapped between behemoth enterprise systems and low-powered alternatives that split customer management across multiple software platforms. A team approach to CRM, dedication to building customer intelligence, and a commitment to working within the platform will help small businesses get the maximum value from these unified systems.

As small businesses increasingly shift to unified CRM platforms, the scope and capabilities of these systems will inevitably expand. This is a development we should welcome. When small businesses can do a lot more for customers with a lot less software—and empower their entire business to contribute to great customer service—CRM will transform their ability to win loyal customers and create true fans.

Steve McIntosh is the founder and chief operating officer of Fanhub.

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