Advantages of using cloud based CRM & Helpdesk solutions
Cloud computing refers to the use of shared services on the Internet where your data and applications are stored in a 3rd party data center and you access them through your browser. In the past 5 years, there has been a proliferation of business applications on the cloud. In this post, I will cover the major advantages of moving your CRM and helpdesk solutions to the cloud, and the popular providers of these solutions.
Top 4 advantages of cloud services
- No installation is needed in your computer – In a traditional IT setup, you need to have your CRM and helpdesk tool installed in every computer you will be using to access the service. This is both time consuming and pose special usability problems for your salesmen on the field. For instance, if your sales guys want to access all the interactions with a customer prior to afield meeting, they can just access the service in their phone and be better prepared if they are using a cloud CRM service.
- Very low upfront costs – Cloud services let you convert your CapEx (Capital Expenditures) to OpEx (Operational Expenditures) and thus cuts your capital investments. For instance, Salesforce.com’s Contact Manager service is available for as low as $2/user/month while an equivalent non-cloud setup could cost upwards of $1000. This pricing model is advantageous for the small businesses and startups that have scarcity of capital and want to make an optimum allocation. However, it could get expensive in the long run since you are billed per month and per user instead of paying just a one-time fee.
- Low IT management costs – If you host the CRM and helpdesk in your enterprise servers, your IT team has the responsibility of keeping the software updated in all systems, tracking security vulnerabilities and making sure the servers are always up. This can get very expensive. However, in the case of cloud services the providers do all the server management jobs and they get better economies of scale in doing this.
- More reliable and robust – In the case of a traditional enterprise setup, all the data and applications are stored in-house. This can be very risky if a disaster were to strike your office. In the case of cloud services from a reputed provider, your data is backed up in different regions of the world and there is very little chance that a single disaster can wipe out your data.
Which cloud providers to use?
Highrise – This is a product from 37signals that is a leader in productivity tools for small businesses. For startups with 2 users and under 250 contacts, it is free while there are flexible plans starting from $24/month for small groups.
Salesforce.com – This is a leader in cloud services and provides a variety of options to manage the customers in the cloud. They have dozens of options starting from $2/user/month for a limited contact manager service all the way to a power packed professional CRM for $65/user/month.
Zendesk – This is one of the leaders in the cloud based helpdesk software. It provides ticket management, knowledge base, social media support and analytics. The plans start from $24/month/agent.
Freshdesk – This is a direct competitor to Zendesk and provides a slightly lower pricing. The first agent is free and after that the plans start from $9/month.
While moving your enterprise data to the cloud, care must be taken in educating your employees on the best practices in security. While the services are overall secure, they also provide more opportunities of getting your data leaked due to the poor practices of your employees.