Do you ever feel confused when trying to figure out what type of software your business needs? You’re not alone. It can be a tricky world to navigate, especially when solutions — like CRM software and customer lifecycle management software — appear similar on the surface.
Yes, CLM and CRM systems both involve uploading and tracking a lot of customer data. They can have many of the same functions that help sales, marketing and customer service teams interact with leads and customers or document activities that happen in an e-commerce portal. But these two separate tools provide different specialties to help businesses evolve.
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This article will help clear the air so you understand how CRM and CLM are different, as well as where they overlap. We’ll also look at some of the top customer lifecycle management software on the market.
CLM vs CRM: What’s the Difference?
Let’s break down what CRM and CLM are and how they differ so you gain a better understanding of how they most effectively fit into your tech stack.
Customer relationship management has been one of the biggest buzzwords in enterprise vendor software over the past few years. CRM platforms have become a standard component of what businesses use to compete in the data-centric and digitally connected 21st century.
The core focus of customer relationship management is capturing information about the interactions between a customer and a business. This concept is broadly applied to CRM software suites. These systems allow users to create detailed files and profiles on individual clients, track a deal through its various phases and use business intelligence to target messages to particular customer sets.
The key word here is “relationship.” CRM features are designed to help businesses work more closely with their customers and provide the convenient, personalized experiences people expect.
CRM software is commonly divided into two categories, depending on whether the system targets B2B or B2C customers.
Customer lifecycle management is a little different.
CLM (which may also be known as client lifecycle management software) is an analytical tool first and foremost. It often focuses on showing the outcomes of certain business processes, including those that rely on a CRM platform. In fact, multiple experts online talk about customer lifecycle management as “measuring your CRM program’s success over time.”
There’s a lot of talk about CLM metrics and CLM as a metrics-based approach. In essence, customer lifecycle management software analyzes an entire chain of transactions and processes to present the results in a digestible way.
Conducting this analysis lets you categorize different levels of customer interaction. For example, separating the customer interest phase from the transaction process, and developing another category for loyalty programs and customer retention.
Customer lifecycle management software examines things like purchase history, post-sales service and support, and a customer’s general history of interactions to help companies attract and retain larger numbers of customers over time.
However, those actions are also handled by many CRM applications, pointing to the fact that there can be quite a bit of overlap between CRM and CLM software. For example, much of the analytics that CLM systems perform use data created by and stored in the CRM system.
Often, CRM and CLM solutions will have overlapping features. Here are a few examples:
- Customer behavior tracking
- Customer segmentation based on different characteristics
- Email marketing
- Comprehensive customer profiles
- Dashboards and reports
When comparing CRM and CLM systems, it’s good to keep their differences and similarities in mind. It’s also important to remember that CRM solutions are much more common, acting as the main driver of customer processes for many businesses.
Any company, no matter the size or industry, can benefit from using CRM software. Whether you add a customer lifecycle management platform to the mix will depend on your needs and the range of capabilities available through your CRM tool.
Your company has to decide what type of product offers the best fit. To do that, consider factors like:
- What type of customer data is most important to you
- How you currently manage the processes handled by CRM and CLM software
- What types of extra functionality might improve your sales process
- Whether you have users that will need to use the solution in the field
- What your growth and retention goals are
- Whether it makes more sense to buy separate solutions or go with a CRM that includes CLM capabilities
If you think you’ll need a customer lifecycle management solution, we have you covered. The next section breaks down some of the best products to kick-start your search.
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