CRM vs. system of record: what’s the difference and why does it matter for your business? 

Details about your customers are imperative for establishing and maintaining a relationship with them. CRM software takes what was once a contact card with a few bits of information scrawled in the margin to a cohesive portrait of customers based on data. A CRM puts information about your customers into a well-organized data warehouse right at your fingertips. You can then use this prized information to better your business processes, streamline workflows, and much more. 

Comparatively, systems of record really only serve the function of storing information, where CRMs let you action it and serve as a tool for customer engagement.

Keeping interaction history and updated details about your customers is a critical component within business operations. Companies use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software to store and organize customer data. Instead of relying on regular pen and paper, businesses use CRM software to compile customer information into a well-organized data warehouse. Data is easily accessible and allows companies to optimize workflows and maximize employee efficiency. 

Many think of the term “SOR” or “system of record” and visualize a CRM platform. However, a CRM is more than that. A system of record describes a piece of software that allows you to store information. It is more of an umbrella term for a certain type of software. CRM platforms specifically serve as actionable tools for customer engagement.

We’ll take a closer look at the differences between a CRM and a system of records and explore how using a CRM can make dramatic improvements to the user experience.

Is a CRM a SOR (System of Record)? CRM vs SOR

Yes and no. A system of record (SOR) is a decided place where your data lives. A CRM takes that further by storing customer data while simultaneously helping maximize its usability. CRMs help you to make hyper-informed decisions about how to approach and interact with your customers.

Although a CRM can accomplish the same tasks that most SORs can accomplish, not all SORs are designed to do everything a CRM can. A system of record (SOR) is essentially a place where your data lives. A CRM not only stores data, but maximizes its usability with a focus on enhancing the customer and agent experience. CRMs allow you to visualize any given customer’s current status by presenting different pieces of information all at once. 

What is CRM?

CRM stands for customer relationship management, a concept that has been important since there were customers to have. But what is CRM software? Simply put it is software for managing customer data. It was designed to be a digital replacement for one of the staples on an agent’s desk. No, not the phone. The Rolodex. 

Today’s CRM is a powerful data management system that gathers all of the available information on your customers–from digital systems, sales data, communication channels, and more–in one place. Using your CRM you can search for customer details, pull up relevant history, and comb through previous emails and webchat logs. It can be accessed by the sales team, marketing team, and anyone else in the company so that everyone is on the same page when it comes to managing the customer relationship. 

Aside from making record-keeping incredibly efficient, a CRM is a must-have for businesses that want to provide the best possible user experience over the life of the customer’s relationship with the brand.

Superior customer relationship management begins as employees first walk through the door. Early on, businesses train at their standards of excellence because customer relationship management is one of the foundations of any company. However, CRM software is a relatively new concept. A simple definition is “software for managing customer data.” It replaces the traditional pen and notebook for a much more sophisticated way of doing businesses. 

Why is a CRM system important for your business?

Bolstering your customer-focused strategy with technology is like supercharging a battery. CRM systems give you access to a clear overview of your customers all in one place. You can streamline sales processes and develop more informed marketing campaigns. Agents have a complete view of customers in real-time. This allows them to provide a better customer experience, generate sales, and increase efficiency. A CRM system ensures customer needs are at the forefront of your business process.

In fact, a recent survey revealed that for companies that use a CRM, the average return on their technology investment is $8.71 for each dollar spent. That ROI is possible because an integrated CRM streamlines and automates manual processes so your agents can spend less effort on time-consuming manual processes like data entry and direct more attention toward interacting with customers.

When companies take a customer-centric approach and rely on technology to deliver a superior customer experience, growth and satisfaction start to happen. CRM software gives you a holistic overview of your customers through a single platform. 

It gives employees the tools they need that result in a smooth interaction with each customer. This allows you to streamline workflows that rely heavily on updated customer data. Employees can provide a better customer experience and boost revenue. 

On average, companies boost sales by 29% when using a CRM. A customer journey that’s informative includes friendly interaction, transparency, and informative makes customers want to come back. Positive experiences help generate referrals. A CRM makes it possible to improve the customer journey. These factors contribute to an increase in profits and a higher ROI.

Examples of SORs

In order to better understand the difference between the two terms (SOR and CRM), here are a few examples of software that are considered SORs.

  • Accounting software
  • Human Resources software
  • IT system of record software
  • Operations system of record software

Basic functionality of a CRM

Data Centralization

All users can have the ability to access a unified set of customer data. At a glance, agents understand each customer’s preferences for communication, their past interactions, the service history, etc. The customer no longer has to remind different agents at different times of their different interactions. Every agent gets an identical portrait of each customer.

A CRM is a one stop shop for all things customers. An account is created for each customer. Relevant data such as contact information, interaction history, and communication preferences are stored in each account. Users can access these accounts to provide support or execute outbound campaigns. This helps personalize customer interactions because users can quickly become familiar with a customer’s history. This information is visible to anyone who accesses a customer’s account. Frustration is averted because customers aren’t forced to repeat their past conversations over and over.

Continuous Information Analysis

Data is constantly being input and organized within the CRM system. The portrait of your customer is constantly being revised to better match their preferences. Customer preferences and requirements are constantly changing. CRM systems help you stay up to date with these changes.

A CRM system allows for easy updates within a customer’s account. Each time a customer talks to a company representative, their contact information can be updated if needed. If their preferences change, this can be updated as well. 

Accurate customer data is important because it contributes to a positive customer experience. Outbound campaigns rely on updated contact information. Updated data is critical when sending urgent messages. A CRM provides a constant flow of the latest customer information. 

CRM’s are not one size fits all

A lot of CRM’s are, in effect, beefed up accounting and financial systems. Many lack the ability to make workflow changes as well as configurability. CRM features are useful tools. But, these tools are useless if it is difficult for agents to interact with them. 

CRM software that works with a configurable agent desktop gives agents access to 

  • Account information
  • Multichannel interaction history
  • Service ticket status

A configurable agent desktop gives agents access to the right information at the right time. Without the need to toggle through windows or look up necessary information, agents can make the most out of their conversations with customers. 

CRM software can use configurable agent desktops by providing data fields and layouts that best serve each customer’s needs. Bringing in 3rd party information allows agents to provide informed customer service.

CRMs Are Customizable

Rigid CRMs generally function as accounting or other financial data storage software. They may also lack the ability to integrate with other pieces of software. Their inflexibility can make 

it is difficult for users to use them efficiently. In order to ensure a seamless workflow, consider implementing a CRM that provides a configurable agent desktop. This allows customization access to multiple data sources. For example, our configurable agent desktop provides agents with the features below.

  • Scripting
  • Multi-source account information 
  • Multichannel interaction history
  • Service ticket status
  • API call-outs to 3rd party systems
  • And more.

A configurable agent desktop gives agents access to the right information at the right time and eliminates the need to toggle through multiple windows. This allows agents to focus entirely on their interactions with customers. 

CRM and the agent experience

Unified CRMs allow agents to have a unified view of customer interaction history. Agents that can identify customers, their needs and their conversational preferences are empowered to provide a great customer experience. Unified CRMs give agents the right tools to do just that. 

CRM software in should

  • Provide relevant information across channels. 
  • Use data to provide an informed communication path
  • Provide a holistic view of the customer through conversations

CRM software allows agents to make sure that every step of the customer service journey is smooth and efficient. Quality customer service depends on this. When the relevant information is provided across channels, agents can use this big picture to make informed decisions about how to interact with customers. The more informed an agent is, the smoother the interaction.

It’s easy to understand why a CRM is so essential if you think of it like your relationship with a friend. Every time you see that friend, you don’t introduce yourself and start over like you’ve never met them. Instead, you interact with them based on your holistic experience–every interaction you’ve had and all of the information you’ve learned leading up to that point. A good CRM makes your relationship with a customer unfold in the same way. 

A unified CRM takes the whole customer experience into account when presenting a customer portrait. Feedback data drawn from past customer interactions allows you to pinpoint places in the customer journey that can be improved. Points of friction are easily seen and resolved. 

When your customer data is integrated into your workflows, agents can develop a plan of action that best suits each individual customer based on history or campaign treatment automatically. They are tuned into the customer as much as possible going into every conversion. 

And, because the use of an integrated CRM greatly improves data accessibility, contact centers using a CRM are able to shorten their customer interactions by 8 to 14%. With 360° views of the customer, agents have deep insights readily available to their fingertips before and during any touchpoint.

A unified CRM provides one place where agents can access customer interaction history. This makes it simple for agents to identify customer needs and preferences to create a positive and personalized experience for the customer. Agents can accomplish this when their CRM:

  • Provides relevant information across channels (SMS, voice, chat, email) 
  • Records critical call analytics 
  • Keeps track of all previous customer interaction history. 

These features make it possible to deliver a personalized experience. Through its ease of use, a CRM allows agents to focus on exceptional customer service. When agents are provided with a holistic overview for every customer, it is much easier to identify gaps in the customer’s journey. Having updated customer data available in every workflow through a unified CRM empowers every agent (even in various roles). Information is consistent and continuous. This should help clear up the difference in a crm vs system of record.

Campaigns are efficiently executed through data sourced from the CRM. Agents can automate omnichannel campaigns. Productivity is maximized as they run in the background. Agents can simply follow up on each response. 

Improve the Customer and Agent Experience

Think about the benefits your current CRM brings to your agents. Do its features provide agents the ability to effortlessly deliver an improved customer experience? Does it integrate well into operational workflows? Bring your customer experience up to the next level and consider investing in a unified CRM that can help you accomplish this. 

Interaction optimization

Data piped straight into the workflow allows agents to be more efficient with their time. This enables them to deliver excellent performance in the call center. Marketing automation gives agents the tools for how to best approach each customer. Customer’s social media can even be drawn upon to paint a cohesive preference portrait. Agents can give customers answers they need quickly by anticipating their needs. 

To optimize customer interactions on an ongoing basis, you should:

  • Continuously update your record and systems. Take advantage of their configurability to adjust for what your business needs today instead of simply relying upon what worked yesterday. 
  • Leverage CRM analytics. Mine the rich data your CRM provides for insights on where the customer experience can be improved. Where are sales falling through the cracks? At what points are customers leaving for a competitor?
  • Automate processes. If it’s a task a typical agent does 10+ times in a day, chances are it can and should be automated.
  • Zero in on high LTV customers. Your CRM offers features that allow you to give priority treatment to your most profitable accounts.

Omnichannel communication

Data collected is even more powerful when it can be shared across channels. Data from phone calls is more powerful when it can be integrated with data from digital messaging or email. This is called omnichannel communication, and it is an important tool for providing optimal customer service.

Today’s customer doesn’t just use a phone to make calls or their Facebook profile to message friends. Instead, they use a wide range of channels for multiple purposes, choosing the one that suits their needs best at any given moment. 

It makes sense, then, that they want to interact with companies in the same way, using the channel that’s most convenient or comfortable for them at any given time. An omnichannel strategy accommodates this while increasing customer satisfaction, boosting agent productivity and unifying your brand’s voice. 

Every day you have to make decisions about running your business efficiently and effectively. The more informed in your decision you can be the better. Using a wide set of data that is organized in a unified manner can be a great boon when it comes to understanding your customers. CRM software helps you take the guesswork out of excellent customer service.

How a modern contact center uses System of Record and crm information

A modern contact center extensively utilizes a System of Record (SOR) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) information to streamline its operations, enhance customer interactions, and drive business growth. With the advent of advanced technologies and digitization, the role of contact centers has become more significant and evolved beyond traditional customer support methods. By incorporating SOR and CRM tools, contact centers can elevate their performance by managing customer information more effectively, consequently improving overall customer satisfaction and building long-term relationships.

A System of Record serves as the primary source of truth, storing valuable customer data and transactional information. This critical data repository assists contact centers in managing and organizing essential customer details, such as demographics, transaction histories, preferences, and interactions. By tapping into the insights provided by these comprehensive customer profiles, contact center agents can deliver more personalized and efficient services in real-time.

In addition to storing data, SOR tools help contact centers ensure data consistency and integrity across all platforms. This process mitigates the risk of mishandling or misinterpreting customer data, which consequently leads to more accurate data-driven decisions that benefit both the contact center and the customer.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems play a pivotal role in providing contact centers with a dynamic, 360-degree view of customer interactions across various touchpoints, including email, social media, live chat, and voice calls. These platforms enable agents to access crucial customer data instantly, empowering them to address customer needs more effectively.

CRM systems offer myriad features, such as automated workflows, that enable contact centers to save time, minimize errors, and streamline processes. By automating routine tasks, these platforms allow agents to focus on more critical aspects of customer engagement, ultimately resulting in higher-quality interactions and improved customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, CRM solutions provide contact centers with thorough analytics capabilities, offering insights into customer trends, preferences, and feedback. This invaluable information allows organizations to identify areas for improvement, make data-driven decisions, and optimize their overall customer support strategies.

Modern contact centers harness the power of Systems of Record and Customer Relationship Management information to improve their customer interactions and streamline operations. By integrating these tools with contact center workflows, these organizations can access and manage essential customer data with ease, ensure consistency and accuracy in engagement, and enhance their overall customer support capabilities. This comprehensive approach towards customer data and interactions ultimately results in a more robust customer experience and promotes sustained business success.

How to start using a CRM system in your contact center

Incorporating a CRM system in your contact center operations can significantly streamline your customer relationship management strategies and boost overall productivity. CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is a technological solution that aids in managing interactions with current and potential customers. Unlike a system of record that primarily focuses on storing static data, a CRM system dynamically organizes, analyzes, and optimizes customer-related information to improve your engagement with clients and enhance your company’s growth trajectory.

To begin effectively utilizing a CRM system in your contact center, it is essential first to identify your organization’s specific customer interaction needs and select the right CRM software that caters to those necessities. With features such as contact tracking, sales force automation, customer segmentation, and detailed reporting—all while integrating with various communication channels—CRM systems can provide unparalleled insight into customer behavior and preferences. By effectively analyzing and implementing these insights, businesses can craft highly personalized communication approaches, ultimately fostering long-term customer satisfaction and loyalty. Not only does this contribute to an enhanced customer experience, but it also empowers your contact center agents by providing them with the necessary tools and information needed to excel in their roles.

What is the difference between CRM and a database?

A CRM is a platform that stores and organizes customer data such as contact information, interaction history, and communication preferences. A database is a platform that stores data.

What is the difference between sales management and CRM?

Sales management can be thought of as a way to organize sales-related data such as customer information and transaction histories. It can involve tracking completed sales and identifying best practices. A CRM is a tool that can make the sales management much more effective.

What do you need to integrate with your CRM system the most?

Your CRM should be able to integrate with your softphone. This enhances every single customer interaction as data is instantly presented to agents when connected with a customer over the phone, chat, SMS, or email.