Successful business people understand that companies live or die by the relationships built with customers. This month's Business Choice Awards evaluates the best customer relationship management (CRM) services because so many businesses rely on CRM to organize and manage customer interactions.
However you use CRM services—keeping track of customer contact info, logging and reporting on purchases and support interactions, or even notifying customers of special events—choosing them will help ensure that your business is working to keep your customers happy.
For almost three decades, PCMag has been augmenting its hands-on, labs-based product reviews with our Readers' Choice Awards, in which PCMag readers rate the products and services they use the most. The Business Choice Awards extend Readers' Choice by garnering feedback about the hardware, software, and services our readers deploy, administer, maintain, and use in a business environment.
You probably know the drill: our survey asked respondents to rate their overall satisfaction, reliability, and tech support experience with the CRM service they use, plus the likelihood they would recommend it to others.
If you select, deploy, or administer the products in our Business Choice Awards, or if you advise or manage people in these roles, you know how critical it is to choose the right products. The results of the PCMag Business Choice Awards survey are invaluable when doing so.
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Looking for a pro opinion? Read The Best CRM Software of 2016.
CRM Services and Software
What could be more important than happy customers? Superlative service is the result of a sustained effort to build and maintain a relationship that pleases each customer. That's where CRM services can sweeten the deal; they help organize, automate, and synchronize sales, marketing, customer service and technical support. As CRM services pack in increasingly more features, make sure to understand and evaluate them based on the features you need most. Look for a strong track record for support and updates because the last thing you want to do is log the lifeblood of your business into an unreliable system.
CRM services traditionally have low scores across all categories when compared to the other services PCMag readers rate for the Business Choice Awards. These services are complex, multi-faceted and CRM initiatives in general face cultural challenges that go far beyond the features and functionality provided by the solution itself. It's no cakewalk being a CRM service provider.
PCMag readers nominated over 30 companies, of which only six received enough responses to be included as finalists—the same finalists as last year. This year's winner for best CRM service is SugarCRM, which blew away the competition for the second year in a row with outstanding scores.
PCMag readers showered SugarCRM with XXXs and OOOs. Its overall score was up from last year's 7.1 to a 7.6. (Though, to be fair, every single finalist had an improved overall score from 2015.) SugarCRM scored highest for overall satisfaction, likelihood to be recommended, and NetPromoter Score, and tied with Salesforce.com for a high in reliability. Even better, we were unable to calculate a tech support score for SugarCRM because too few respondents reported needing help.
A very important measure of a service is the response to the critical question "How likely are you to recommend your CRM service to a colleague?" SugarCRM proved the sweetest score at 7.9. The closest follower was Salesforce.com (our winner two years ago) with a 7.2. This question is used to calculate the Net Promoter Score, which really crystalizes the differences between CRM services. Our two positive scores, SugarCRM (33 percent) and Salesforce.com (4 percent), bubble to the top.
Reflecting readers' distaste for their CRM services are the low recommendation scores for ACT! (6.6), Microsoft Dynamics (6.7), SAP (6.7), and Oracle (6.8). Again, these numbers represent slight improvements from last year (with a significant improvement by SAP from last year's 5.6). But they also all translate to negative number NPS scores, meaning that survey respondents actually steer their colleagues away from the bitter pill of CRM from Oracle, ACT!, Microsoft, and SAP. Believe it or not, these negative scores also represent dramatic improvements over last year, especially in the case of SAP, up from last year's abysmal -52.
SugarCRM The highly customizable and feature-rich SugarCRM has taken the top spot among PCMag reader ratings for two years now, proving that CRM tools can be beloved.
We email survey invitations to PCMag.com community members, specifically subscribers to our Readers' Choice Survey mailing list. The surveys are hosted by SurveyMonkey, which also performs our data collection. This survey was in the field from October 10, 2016 to October 30, 2016.
Respondents were asked to rate their CRM using multiple questions about their overall satisfaction with the solution, as well as experiences with technical support within the past 12 months.
Because the goal of the survey is to understand how the email marketing solutions compare to one another and not how one respondent's experience compares to another's, we use the average of the email marketing solutions' rating, not the average of every respondent's rating. In all cases, the overall ratings are not based on averages of other scores in the table; they are based on answers to the question, "Overall, how satisfied are you with your CRM service?"
Scores not represented as a percentage are on a scale of 0 to 10 where 10 is the best.
Net Promoter Scores are based on the concept introduced by Fred Reichheld in his 2006 best seller, The Ultimate Question, that no other question can better define the loyalty of a company's customers than "how likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?" This measure of brand loyalty is calculated by taking the percent of respondents who answered 9 or 10 (promoters) and subtracting the percent who answered 0 through 6 (detractors). (For more, read PCMag's Top Consumer Recommended Companies for 2015.)
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