Can you communicate with all your clients at once? Do you know which ones are your most loyal? How many of your clients live in the same zip code or region?
If you aren’t sure about the answers to these questions, it may be time to invest in a client database. Service businesses, especially, rely on customer relationships—a client database is a powerful tool that can help with exactly that.
For example, an accounting firm may benefit from a database that integrates billing, appointment scheduling, and general client information into a portal that its clients can use to access their accounts. By automating processes and giving clients 24-hour account access, the firm improves customer relationships and frees up staff to focus on billable hours instead of administrative tasks.
Client databases offer many other benefits to service businesses as well.
Before you invest in one of these platforms, it’s a good idea to learn more about what problems you may be able to solve with specific types of platforms. We’ll dive into the details here. We’ll also give you some insight into a handful of the most popular customer database software offerings.
A client database is a centralized place for storing client information that helps refine your strategies. The best databases make it easy to stay up to date on customer information, purchase history, and more. Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms are the most common type of client database for organizations of all sizes.
Developing a rich understanding of your client base is critical for growing your business. When you truly know what motivates your customers to return—and what makes them turn to another option—you can make better marketing decisions. When you establish a CRM or another kind of client database, you’ll be able to:
While CRM platforms are the most common type, organizations may use any of several types of client databases. Many use multiple databases. In addition to CRM systems, you’ll find:
Many vendors offer multiple types of client databases, but some focus on only one or two.
There are so many client databases to choose from that it may feel a bit overwhelming. Not to worry: If you focus on a few key features, you can quickly narrow your list to a few top contenders.
No matter which type you’re considering, there are several key benefits and features you should look for.
Whether your sales reps need to access the CRM system outside the office, or employees who work from home need access, your new database should have cloud capabilities. Many platforms offer mobile apps that connect to cloud databases.
When a team member needs to share client information with other team members, it should be easy. Many databases offer tagging features for just this purpose.
Some organizations choose a client database knowing they will need to hire a permanent administrator to manage it. Others seek platforms that are less complex to set up and use. It’s better to look for a simple interface without a lot of bells and whistles in most cases.
The best client platforms allow you to create customized reports so you can communicate information to outside parties or analyze your data in new ways.
When you run into an issue, it should be quick and easy to get support from the platform’s vendor. Most of the time, you’ll find free basic support when you invest in a client database, but you can often pay for more extensive support options.
If a vendor is not transparent about pricing, run the other way. Unfortunately, there are many scams and less-than-ethical vendors you should avoid. One of the most common misrepresentations is when a database or platform has a flat download or setup fee, followed by an ever-escalating list of recurring expenses. You should be able to get a straightforward, accurate answer about how much you can expect to spend to actually use the database.
These seven database platforms are among the most popular. Each offers various features to fit organizational needs. No matter what your organization does, there’s a client management platform out there for you.
Accelo focuses on the needs of small service businesses. The company offers cloud-based features aimed at helping businesses run their operations, streamline client work, and automate processes.
Accelo's s system introduces centralization to businesses that may have several disparate systems working independently of one another. The Accelo platform automates mundane, labor-intensive processes like moving information from one system into another, freeing up employees to focus on billable work.
Organizations turn to Accelo when searching for a cloud-compatible collaboration tool that can truly support their business.
The Salesforce Customer 360 platform is a central hub for marketing, sales, commerce, service, and IT teams. Clients can access Salesforce’s connected apps through the interface, giving them access to customer engagement tools, e-commerce support, and other tools that foster collaboration across disparate teams.
Salesforce is primarily a cloud-based platform, so businesses with distributed teams, in particular, may want to take a look. The company has been a player in the cloud computing field from the start.
Keap, formerly known as Infusionsoft, offers CRM and sales and marketing tools for small businesses. Its primary focus is on CRM tools, marketing automation, lead capture, e-commerce support, and tools that provide insight into the customer life cycle.
Keap’s mission is to simplify growth for small businesses. The Keap all-in-one platform offers features like a client database, email and SMS marketing support, and client and scheduling tools.
Streak is an “embedded workflow” CRM and productivity software product integrated with Gmail. The idea here is that you can manage client work from your Gmail inbox. Teams can collaborate through Gmail, so they are always linked anywhere there is an internet connection.
Not surprisingly, the company offers powerful email tools. Streak can automatically capture data from contacts and emails and apply that information to Google Workspace (G Suite) tools like Sheets, Chat, and Drive.
Tray.io is a cloud-based data integration platform designed for sales, marketing, and customer support teams. The company primarily focuses on medium-sized businesses and large enterprise operations.
This platform is built around flexible application programming interface (API) automation. It allows users to become “citizen automators” who can integrate the services they use into a central hub where other team members can benefit. Ultimately, Tray.io is an integration platform that can automate a long list of client-related tasks.
AllClients is a CRM software program that helps teams centralize operations versus buying many specialized products that may or may not work together. The company aims its products toward clients who don’t have a great deal of tech expertise.
While AllClients doesn’t feature a seemingly endless list of features like some other all-in-one CRM platforms, it is one of the more accessible options for teams with mixed tech skills. The company claims its platform is so easy to use that most customers are up and running within a day.
HubSpot CRM is a powerful database that offers substantial benefits for free—though you will need to sign up for a membership if you need to access more complex tools.
HubSpot is focused on the sales pipeline and includes features like detailed reports about sales activity, productivity, and individual performance. Sales managers can use HubSpot CRM to gain more oversight of their teams.
Learn more about how the Accelo client database can enhance and foster service business growth while freeing up your employees to focus on their central roles. You can also try out platform for yourself by signing up for a free trial today.