Get your customer connected to your business with a CRM integration

By Anna Benzaquen
Published: 2/21/23

Customer Relationship Management technology helps companies generate new leads, retain clients, manage marketing, and increase revenue. Sounds important!

A CRM integration helps you analyze customer and sales data so you can take your business up to the next level 📈. These Customer Relationship Management products come in many forms, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for and what will be the best for your business.

When it comes to CRM products, there are four important things to keep in mind:

  1. Cost
  2. Ease of use
  3. Functionality
  4. Integrations

Getting an all-in-one CRM solution generally seems to be cheaper than using the products selling individualized solutions. However, that may mean that you sacrifice certain features and functions to have a lower cost.

Let's take a closer look at what integrating a CRM into your business is all about.

What is CRM Integration?

So, now you have a CRM but how does that work with all of the other applications that you’ve been using up until now?

CRM integration is the act of connecting a CRM system with other systems or applications and helps businesses seamlessly integrate their customer data with other applications within that system or even third-party systems. These third-party systems and applications may originally be unrelated to the CRM system, but the data they generate or use can improve the CRM functionality and vice versa.

These integrations result in automated actions that eliminate the need to toggle back and forth between systems and risk losing information or letting customers fall through the cracks because the data is not optimally organized.

Businesses use a multitude of software applications such as email platforms, accounting software, and social media dashboards. With all these separate tools, you end up with data silos – pockets of isolated data to which certain teams have no access. This data separation creates fragmented customer profiles, limiting your CRM’s ability to track the customer journey

Let’s think of it like a computer: your CRM is the OS that runs your computer, manages your organization, and keeps everything else functioning properly and smoothly; the integrations are all the other apps you use on your computer like a web browser or a video communication platform.

By making the most of your CRM software solution and all its possible integrations, you create an adaptable workflow that is accessible to every team within your business.

Why is CRM Integration Important and How Does it Work?

Integration will look different for different sorts of firms. For some, the connections built into the CRM software will be enough to connect with a few functions of a company website. More complicated firms, on the other hand, will require the integration of a CRM platform with a number of other systems, including those that are equally or more complex, such as an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system.

So how do we understand CRM integration? There are three ways to go about performing a CRM system integration for a business:

  • Use applications that work together
  • Write your own code to integrate your CRM
  • Use APIs to integrate your CRM

1. Use applications that work together

The first, and perhaps simplest, is to use applications from the same provider which generally means they will easily communicate with one another. However, this approach is not always ideal, because providers don’t often offer all the application solutions a business might want or need.

2. Write your own code to integrate your CRM

The second way is to work in-house and write code that allows applications to communicate with each other as well as the CRM. Businesses don’t typically use this approach because many companies lack the necessary in-house IT resources. On top of that, the code can be difficult to maintain and it can easily become a tangled mess, causing problems when adding or editing code later.

3. Use APIs to integrate your CRM

The last approach is probably the most common: using an application programming interface (API). An API allows applications to talk to each other. You can use APIs to integrate your various systems into your CRM (and to connect information from your CRM to your other systems). API use for CRM integration is common because APIs are readily available, cost-effective, and easy to use.

How Does CRM Integration Strengthen Your Business?

A smart CRM integration improves employee productivity, as well as customer experience.

Smart cohesive integrations can extend functionality into the CRM application which exists in the ERP or other edge applications. This provides CRM users a 360-degree view of the customer and prevents the users from logging into multiple systems to perform their job, thus improving employee productivity and ultimately improving the customer experience.

A streamlined and predictable flow of information between the customers and the “back of the house” teams working to make their experiences better is what keeps the whole business running smoothly and, ultimately, keeps the customers happy.

CRM Integration Tools

All integration platforms come with built-in interfaces for the most popular CRM programs. Some integration platforms offer prebuilt recipes and automatic process integrations that can be implemented with little to no coding. Integration platforms can act as the main controller managing workflows in ERP, CRM, and other systems, as well as a workflow engine.

It is possible to have complex bi-directional data and process orchestration with complex business rules defining routing, enrichment, transformations, and exception handling when using an integration platform. These integration platforms can also make it possible for all apps and systems to share APIs with standardized functionality.

An API removes the complexity of integrations, enabling self-service integration and the quick creation of new integrations. Using robotic process automation (RPA) can significantly boost staff productivity by integrating software and manual processes into workflows.

CRM Integration Examples

There are as many different examples of CRM integrations as there are business applications. Here are a few of the most common types of integration seen in the business world.

  • Communication integrations
  • IT and knowledge integrations
  • Marketing integrations
  • Social media integrations

Communication integrations

Customer communication integration allows access, management, and visibility of client engagements started across various kinds of communication channels (phone, web, chat, email, or social media).

CRM integration with the phone system enables the recording of call information and contact details for later use. With caller id and auto-query of the customer record, this capability also facilitates incoming and outgoing calling from within the CRM application.

Chat functionality is gaining popularity. Chatbots can automatically create leads from website visitors or users of mobile applications with the help of a chat program or chat feature installed on the sales website or mobile application. The CRM system can be integrated with these conversations and leads to guarantee a prompt response from a live person.

By integrating the CRM application with the email system, you can access internal email from within the CRM program (i.e. Outlook or Gmail, etc.). Salespeople frequently use email as their primary way of communication; by leveraging it within CRM, they can access the most recent contact and account information without having to register into numerous systems. It also gives users access to shared templates and sequences, increasing efficiency.

IT and knowledge integrations

Merging help desk systems and live chat apps into a CRM helps keep everything in one place while also displaying critical information such as customer service history.

Marketing integrations

Automating many elements of your sales and marketing activities requires procedures that may span many applications, necessitating data, and process integration. By automating repetitive operations, you can increase employee productivity by allowing your staff to concentrate on more difficult and client-centric tasks.

This automation includes duties that were formerly completed manually such as data collecting, data analysis, outgoing calls, marketing campaigns, etc. It also enhances data quality and helps avoid mistakes.

Most CRM systems have limited email marketing capabilities, so some businesses use stronger external direct email marketing platforms. Such systems require connectivity with and access to data from the CRM and ERP systems such as customer and prospect demographics and purchasing patterns.

Social media integrations

By integrating platforms such as Twitter or Instagram, companies can keep tabs on how specific clients engage with marketing or other social media channels. The relevant data is then easily accessible in a centralized dashboard.

You can also use integrations to automate social media marketing chores like scheduled posting. You may find out what your consumers are most likely to share and engage with by integrating your CRM with your business’ social media accounts.

Benefits of CRM Integration

There are innumerable benefits to successfully using CRM integration but we’ve tried to enumerate the most impactful benefits, just for you.

  1. Better customer experience
  2. Marketing and sales automation
  3. Better organization
  4. Improved reporting
  5. Better security

1. Better customer experience

When customers keep explaining the same thing over and over again, they start to think that maybe the salesperson isn’t listening to them and doesn’t really care about meeting their needs.

CRM integration gives salespeople and marketers immediate access to notes from previous conversations. Your team members can easily see what happened during each contact. CRM integration also helps marketers keep track of how many contacts they’ve had with each customer, allowing them to adjust their approach for each subsequent encounter.

2. Marketing and sales automation

CRM integration makes it easy to automate sales and marketing activities, making sure that team members have more time to spend connecting with prospective and current customers. Automation reduces the amount of time it takes to personalize your website, determine when leads are qualified, and get the information needed for salespeople to follow up with prospects effectively.

3. Better organization

While automation is important to internal efficiency, consolidating information into one system allows for increased productivity. Tasks like monitoring and analyzing customer data can be done more easily and on a larger scale when employees don’t have to log into multiple systems, toggling back and forth. Integration also allows team members to retrieve and edit desired information instantly.

Centralized access to organized data not only eases an employee’s workload, but it also promotes transparency and clear communication within the business.

4. Improved reporting

CRM integration enhances your reporting capabilities, which makes it easier to calculate lead conversion rates and determine whether customer retention rates have improved as a result of your recent marketing activities.

5. Better security

Depending on which integrations you choose, you may be able to access a wider range of security applications, preventing unauthorized users from accessing your data.

Your business may also choose to use the typical integration method of APIs data access. API access allows data to be transmitted between applications without storing the data elsewhere, reducing the risk of unauthorized access. With CRM integration, it’s also possible to restrict users from accessing certain pages, fields, objects, and forms, ensuring everyone has an appropriate level of access to customer data.

Summary of CRM Integration

CRM integration takes your internal business functions to the next level by ensuring that all of your internal functionalities are connected and communicating. This gives you and your team members access to necessary customer information and marketing and sales reporting. If MailChimp is the first thing you open every morning but the CRM can’t integrate it, you’ll end up frustrated at the end of the day.

Some CRM products provide free trials or even free basic versions 😱. The ones that don’t provide this service will typically provide a free demo of the product. Using the trials and demos is important when you choose your product so that you know the system is easily navigable and has everything you need.

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