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Stay totally in the loop with CRMs

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At some point in your admin career, you’ll probably encounter customer relationship management soft­­ware (CRM). These databases help organizations keep track of the relationships they have with clients, customers, potential clients and other contacts. There are a lot of different CRM software products on the market; the most popular include Salesforce, Micro­­soft Dynamics CRM, Oracle Sales Cloud and SugarCRM.

CRM software typically includes a searchable contact database that in­­cludes information about customers’ preferences, history and so on, and that is accessible by everyone who interacts with the customer, says Andrea Lotz, a writer at AllProWebTools.

The database can go beyond just customers; the CRM is often seen as the central repository of all things “people,” says Dalia Asterbadi, vice president of relationship management at realSociable. Other contacts stored in the CRM may include business partners, vendors, members of the media, competitors, suppliers, volunteers and targets.

This storehouse of knowledge can help organizations determine the kinds of engagement, communications, admin duties, billing and customer service required to hold onto clients and customers, Asterbadi says. In addition, a CRM can help facilitate marketing, sales, support, accounting, billing and analytics.

Knowing how to work with a CRM can extend administrative assistants’ core competencies and en­­hance their overall influence within the company, Asterbadi says. For example, companies that integrate contracts into the CRM take filing tasks off the admin’s plate, so he can focus on helping with customer support or producing reports, she says. This gives admins a stronger role in the process.

“For admins, the CRM might be used less for interacting with cus­­tomers and more for tracking long-term important business relationships,” Lotz adds. “They can use it to set callback reminders, and keep a high-level knowledge of what’s going on with customer service. An informed admin is a good admin, and CRMs basically help keep you totally in the loop.”

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