What Is a CRM Database-Just what is a CRM database anyway?
Presumably, if you’re here you have some idea of what customer relationship management (CRM) software is: the system of record that businesses use to keep track of interactions with prospects and existing customers. You understand that it’s the hub uniting sales, marketing and customer service, and that it ideally provides a complete view of customer identity, history, preferences and activity.
|What is CRM?
Customer relationship management (CRM) is the system of record that businesses use to keep track of interactions with prospects and existing customers. It’s the hub uniting sales, marketing and customer service that ideally provides a complete view of customer identity, history, preferences and activity.
People use the terms “CRM” and “CRM database” interchangeably. To be fair, it’s also more convenient to just say “CRM” rather than differentiating between the components when there often isn’t a need to. It’s understandable — the database is the part that makes the CRM useful — but while few people will make a big deal out of this, it’s also not entirely correct. The CRM interface is the means of feeding the CRM database. The interface is one way to get value out of the CRM system, but the CRM database itself is a source of value.
The conflation of CRM application and CRM database is most likely an artifact of history. CRM started as a three-way combination of database marketing, contact management, and sales force automation (SFA). These previously separate systems were united to work together, with hits from database marketing feeding the CRM system, which sales departments in turn drew upon to give the SFA something to chew on. The most active users were sales managers, who tended to see the non-SFA parts as “the other stuff,” lumping them together because they were where the SFA application got its data.
There are two main reasons why the ability to integrate with CRM is a highly valued feature of any business software. Adding and refining customer data is one reason; the ability to access the data housed in the CRM platform is the other. Think of every business system you have that isn’t purely business-facing. What information does it use? Financial forecasts, shipping and inventory, Net Promoter Score (NPS), and first-call resolution in the contact center all touch the CRM database. Because of the CRM database, the concept of the customer-centric organization is literally true.