CRM 101: Lead and Contact Profiles

Better than a Rolodex: Smarter Ways to Use Your CRM

March 2, 2018

3 min.

Since a CRM system has so many capabilities, it should be used as more than just a Rolodex. But, to be clear, it definitely should be used like a Rolodex – as it’s perhaps the most advanced “rolling index” available.

The beauty of a Rolodex is that it provides access to customer data – and this is crucial for managing relationships. But a CRM system takes the Rolodex to another level.

That’s because the traditional paper-based rolodex of cards has several limitations. For example, what happens if you leave the office and forget to bring it with you? Suppose a colleague borrows the Rolodex and forgets to return it? And, if you take a card out and return it to the wrong place, good luck finding it again unless you’re prepared to go through every single card to find it.

In addition, the filing system you use for a physical Rolodex can make a difference. For example, do you file alphabetically by last name, or do you file based on other criteria? If the latter, how do you file someone who may be in more than one category – do you have to make duplicate cards?

Sometimes, your handwriting isn’t the best, and you might struggle to decipher it. Is the last digit in that phone number a 1 or a 7? Whether it’s a rotary or a tray-based card file, let’s face it: a physical contact management system is tedious to use.

Improved Access

However, using your CRM as a Rolodex provides a variety of advantages. According to one survey of people with a CRM system, 74% felt that CRM improved access to customer data, and 64% thought CRM helped to improve relationship management.

It’s no longer necessary to be tethered to your desk, or lug a card-file everywhere you go. You can access the CRM system on your laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet. Whether you’re at home, in an off-site meeting, in transit, or on a beach, all of your contacts are right there at your fingertips, and you can easily and quickly locate all of the information that you need.

Using your CRM as a Rolodex provides a variety of advantages

In fact, at least 50% of survey respondents using a CRM system on their tablet or smartphone report increased efficiency levels; almost 40% thought they were making better decisions, and at least 30% thought their follow-ups were better.

Also, you don’t have to worry about coworkers taking your cards and forgetting to return them or misfiling the cards. In addition, you don’t have to worry about losing or misplacing a card, or spilling coffee and/or dropping food on it.

Better Organization

The CRM also allows you to not only store, but also label and filter the contacts, and you can make updates from anywhere. By more efficiently organizing your client database, you’re in a better position to identify your target audience.

And since the CRM is configured to allow you to create custom fields, you can add the type of information that helps you – which could be personal information about a contact that helps you connect with them on a personal level. For example, John has newborn triplets, or Mary likes to go hiking on weekends.

This information is not only essential to you; it’s also need-to-know data for other departments. For example, one key to getting excellent customer service reviews is to make sure the front line is empowered to handle complaints and problems. When they’re on the phone with Jamie, who has a deep voice from a lifetime of smoking, imagine how important it would be for them to know that Jamie should be addressed as “ma’am” instead of “sir.”

CRM system takes the Rolodex to another level

Even if you were using your email provider, Outlook or some other sort of database to store your contacts, the CRM can import the entire database – saving you from tedious, time-consuming redundancy. And it can drastically reduce the possibility of creating spelling errors. You can also export contact lists to project management software for better team organization and gamification software for higher customer engagement.

By setting reminders in your CRM system, you’ll never forget to call or email on a contact’s birthday or anniversary, and you’ll be notified when a scheduled meeting is approaching.

The CRM software can also provide a wealth of other information about your contacts – information that can be used to manage leads and create a sales pipeline. This is the type of data that can also help you develop targeted marketing campaigns for maximum effectiveness.

A CRM system helps you integrate your contacts – and everyone else’s – with other tools that can simplify the contact management process to provide increased results and excellent customer service.

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Terri Williams

Terri Williams is a writer for

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