Manage your customer database

Set up a customer relationship management system


There are a number of practical issues to consider when introducing a marketing database as part of your customer relationship management (CRM) system. You will need to:

  • estimate the likely scale of the system
  • balance your requirements against your budget
  • consider integration with other business systems

Depending on your practical needs, you can choose between various ways of setting up a computer-based marketing database.

Create your own system

The least expensive option is to create a simple system of recording and compiling data (such as invoices, sales records for existing customers, and customer contact lists) in a single spreadsheet. You can then regularly update your customer contact records.

Using a software supplier

If you want to do more with your customer sales and marketing data, you could buy a basic software package and create an office-wide database that all your staff can use.

Alternatively, you could buy a dedicated CRM package such as Oracle, SAP, Peoplesoft, Microsoft, Onyx and Pivotal. However, CRM packages generally require servers, staff training, and customisation so setting them up can be quite complicated.

For more information, read about how to choose a supplier for your customer database system.

You could commission bespoke software and integrate it with your existing software and your website. This can be expensive and may be more appropriate for larger and more complex businesses.

Or you could opt for a managed CRM solution such as Software as a Service (SaaS), where you use software that is hosted externally by an application service provider (ASP). This is known as 'cloud computing'.

You'll need to make sure that you comply with privacy and data protection rules about sales and marketing databases that hold personal information. For more information, see email marketing.

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