Customer Relationship Management Systems
There are some amazing new tools that can help WordPress Freelancers use technology to help them manage their business from their website. This month, Sandi and Nick Batik discussed customer relationship management tools. CRMs can help you manage your customer information, increase sales and offer better service to your WordPress Clients. CRM tools help you gather all your customer information in one location allow and provide valuable insights into your business’s history with that customer. We will look at some WordPress CRM plugins that offer Introverted Freelancers a better way to manage their own businesses and look at ways to offer those same business management tools to their WordPress clients.
What is the Difference Between CRM and ERP
CRM and ERP are important technology acronyms that WordPress Freelancers need to know about. They are both are valuable solutions, but are used to manage and achieve very different business goals.
CRMs are Customer Relationship Management tools that allow you to collect, document and manage customer information from your WordPress Administration Panel (Dashboard). These tools help you track all aspects of your sales or service-related interactions with your clients. The information from your CRM provides valuable insights into the business history of specific customers. This information can help you better understand your customer, retain customers, provide excellent customer service, win new clients and increase profitably.
Where CRMs are all about managing and monitoring our customers, a new generation of ERP plugins helps freelancers manage our business from our WordPress Dashboard. ERP is an abbreviation for Enterprise Resource Planning. ERP used to be a ‘Big-Business’ solution, but plugin developers have brought these business management Command and Control functions to the WordPress Dashboard. We will have a brief review of some WordPress Based ERP solutions at the end of this article.
How CRMs Help Freelancers Build Their Tribe of Customers
WordPress freelancers can use CRM software to manage any customer tracking activities. Most WordPress CRMs provide some variation of these features:
- Customer and Potential Customer Classifications
- Lead Management
- Contact Information
- Account Details
- Future Opportunities
CRMs are invaluable tools to help freelancers:
- Manage Data
- Import Data (leads etc.)
- Export Data
- Back Data up
- and Access APIs for apps and other third parties
CRM WordPress plugins provide an easy way to access and manage organizational tasks, calendars, client calls, support logs, reminders, as well as other client notes. CRM plugins can also make it easier to manage marketing, eMail integration, social campaign integration and Auto-Responders. They can help us manage analytics, pipeline sales, and trending reports. As freelancers, we should install and use these plugins and use them to help us manage our own business. With that personal experience, we can evaluate the individual strengths and weaknesses of a CRM, accurately judge their cost and convenience, and be in a position to recommend and install CRMs on our clients’ sites. In the developer community, we call that eating your own dog food. We can speak from personal experience, rather than conjecture.
CRM plugins that can be managed from the WordPress Dashboard offer an amazing set of options for both the freelancer and our clients. WordPress CRMs offer excellent user organization, filtering, and editing of client data. Most feature the ability to easily add new user data attributes like company name, user activity, contact message management, note tracking, dynamic charts representing attributes with quantifiable data, form creation, and CSV exporting.
WP-CRM- Customer Relations Management for WordPress
WP-CRM Customer Relations Management for WordPress significantly improves user management, easily creates contact forms, and keeps track of incoming shortcode form messages. WP-CRM expands on WordPress functionality by allowing you to organize your users using custom attributes, find them using filters, and keep track of correspondence. Your WP control panel can effectively be used to manage all your customers, vendors, partners, affiliates, etc.
The WordPress Leads plugin offers an easy way to track visitor activity, capture and manage incoming leads, and send collected emails to your email service provider. It can work as a standalone plugin or in conjunction with WordPress Landing Pages & WordPress Calls to Action to create a powerful and free lead generation system for your freelance business.
WordPress Leads is a powerful visitor tracking tool that can tie website activity directly to a specific individual and allows you to track every activity that a visitor takes on your site, before converting to an onsite web form. This CRM helps you gather valuable site visitor intelligence. It helps you determine where your leads are coming from geographically, what they have searched for, and which pages they viewed on your site. Knowing where referral traffic is coming from, and learning site visitors’ topical interests, helps you tune your content strategy and be responsive to your tribe of ideal clients.
Customer Relationship Manager — WooCommerce
The Customer Relationship Manger for WooCommerce is a well-regarded plugin. It is available in the Envato Market CodeCanyon for $55 and comes with six months of support from the plugin author. WooCommerce Customer Relationship Manger allows you to manage your client experience as well as sell products online. The plugin enables you to send emails to one or many customers at once, log the phone calls you make and receive with customers, view information at a glance such as their total spent and number of orders, assign them to groups and accounts, add extra information with our fields or with custom fields created with Advanced Custom Fields. Additionally, it allows you to filter through customers based on various attributes, letting you assign statuses to customers such as lead, prospect, etc. This CRM helps you manage customers in dynamic groups from WordPress Dashboard.
There are now dozens of very good CRM options in the WordPress Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/. The WordPress CMS has been designed to be extended through plugins and the ones you find in the WordPress.org directory have been tested and approved by the hard working dedicated volunteers of the WordPress Community. Make a list of the features you want, look through the Directory and AFTER YOU BACKUP YOUR SITE — experiment to see what plugin solves your specific need and keep your eyes out for solutions you might want to propose to your clients.
Some Final Thoughts on CRM Solutions
Some platform-specific customer management systems are sold as small-business solutions, but are actually “Consultant-Ware” These solutions carry a lot of management overhead. It is always a good idea to think through the Total Cost of such platform/SAAS solutions. As a WordPress Freelancer, if you have to invest not only financial resources but mindshare away from marketing and building your business — it is the wrong solution. A good CRM solution serves you, not the other way around – it needs to be your business partner — not a Digital Deity that requires sacrificial billable hours each week to maintain.
How Can ERPs Help Manage My Freelance Business
ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) plugins help you integrate most of your business processes into a single, efficient system to effectively manage and reach your business goals. ERP can improve the operational efficiency of business resources by giving WordPress freelancers a real-time picture of its operations: product planning, project management, financial functions, tracking sales, process management, human resources, and marketing.
ERP Plugins Help You Manage Your Freelance Business From Your WordPress Dashboard. ERPs help you standardize critical business procedures and reduce redundant tasks. One of the greatest benefits of using an ERP is they can improve the accuracy of financial data, helping you to configure more accurate pricing models, and manage cash flow cycle with more effectively… always a good thing. ERP are best known for facilitating better project planning/management and improving business process management. ERPs have the capability to automate critical contract management processes and manage accounts receivable, human resources and payroll.
If your personal lack of bandwidth slowing the growth of your Freelance business, or you need to focus more on the way you manage your business and budget. installing and using an ERP solution may be the next step in building your business.
There are many ERT Plugins in the Plugin Directory. WP ERP is the one Nick and I use in our own business and have installed on several customer sites. I find it helpful, give it a try and let me know what you think.
These are the notes and the Slide Deck for the WPATX Meetup — July 11, 2016