Customer Databases

How to choose a supplier

The main decision when choosing a supplier will depend on the type of solution required. You have a number of choices:

  • general database software
  • off-the-shelf customer databases
  • consultants
  • database bureaux
  • Application Service Providers (ASPs)

It’s a good idea to try to quantify the anticipated benefits of improving Customer Relationship Management (CRM) for your business. It may help to calculate how it will affect revenues, profitability and the cost of servicing customers. Fundamentally however, this is an investment in your business rather than a cost. The return on that investment can be not just increased sales, but satisfied customers who feel that they are being treated as individuals.

You can also set a budget and research appropriate solution providers. This might be done by carrying out a cost-benefit analysis.

You might wish to bear the following points in mind:

  • what the cost is per user or per licence
  • how many software licences you need
  • if buying a product, what the cost is of updates and in-house support costs
  • if renting a service from a supplier, the set-up and subscription fees

You could find out about the most commonly employed solutions:

  • within your industry
  • adopted by similar sized companies in other sectors

You might find it helpful to prepare a brief. This could simply be a statement of your aims and objectives, rather than an attempt to solve detailed problems. Take into account the data you already have and the format it is in.

You might decide to target two to four potential suppliers, and request proposals from each.

Be prepared to invest time and money in the process.

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