The Benefits of Client Database Management for Service Businesses

By Kirsten McNeice
Talent and Employer Brand Manager
Dec 17 2020 read

Can you communicate with all of your clients at once? Do you know which ones are the 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, and a client database is a powerful tool that can help to maintain them. Client databases offer many other benefits to service businesses as well. 

Before you invest, 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.

What Is a Client Database?

A client database is a centralized place for storing client information. 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. Over 91% of businesses with at least 10 employees use a CRM.

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:

  • Boost client loyalty. Communicate with brand-loyal customers and entice them with exclusive discounts and other rewards.
  • Run better email campaigns. A client database can help you segment your customers into groups to deliver targeted marketing emails.
  • Provide better service. Valuable information about buying behavior, reviews and past interactions can guide you toward more effective client service approaches. 
  • Have quick access to repeat buyers. Retaining customers costs less than acquiring new ones, and your database can help you identify the best prospects. 
  • Market test with returning buyers. Your database can point you toward groups of trusted customers who would be great product testers prior to full-scale product launches.

Types of Client Databases

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:

  • Marketing databases
  • Project management and collaboration platforms with built-in client databases
  • Contact management databases
  • Integration platforms

Many vendors offer multiple types of client databases, but some focus on only one or two. 

Must-Have Features 

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. 

1. Cloud-Based Access

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.

2. Robust Communication Features

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. 

3. Straightforward Setup and Operation

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 an intuitive interface and the option of expert implementation support

4. Customizable Report Features

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. 

5. Client Support

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.

6. Transparent Pricing

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.

Top Client Database Platforms

The following 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 service businesses. The company offers essential features aimed at helping businesses run their operations, streamline client work and automate processes. 

Accelo introduces consolidation and visibility to businesses that may have several disparate systems working independently of one another. It 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-based collaboration platform that can truly support every stage of the client journey.


  • A centralized client database to provide all employees with up-to-date client information
  • Project management tools, including time tracking, resource management and project templates and triggers
  • Retainers, including contract management and automation of recurring work and tasks
  • Reporting and analytics, including revenue and sales forecasting, client profitability reports and team member performance


  • Built for all aspects of client work beyond its robust CRM, including quote automation and project management 
  • Products can be purchased individually for unmatched customization


  • Works best for teams of five or more, so may not be the best fit for smaller teams or freelance consultants
  • No built-in marketing automation tools — but does have a range of seamless third-party integrations, including HubSpot and MailChimp

See why the CRO of one marketing technology consulting firm said Accelo has the "best CRM view of all time."


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, eCommerce 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 has features like a client database, email and SMS marketing support and client and scheduling tools.


  • Lead management including lead nurturing, lead scoring and automated sales alerts
  • Social media marketing, including social profile integrations
  • Campaign management, including calendars and event marketing
  • Reporting and analytics


  • Keap Lite pricing tier for solopreneurs and small teams. 
  • Marketing automation capabilities create a consistent customer experience 


  • No option to remove or hide existing tabs — even with customization
  • Some features, including the mobile app and SMS messaging options, only available in limited regions

HubSpot CRM

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 visibility into what their teams are doing daily. 


  • Intuitive contact management with enriched data to save time on pre-sale research
  • Lead management, including nurturing, scoring and automated sales alerts and tasks
  • Option to send emails and make calls directly from the platform 
  • Thorough deal tracking, pipeline dashboard and performance reports


  • Free subscription option with CRM essentials for new firms
  • Option to upgrade to Marketing or Sales Hub for additional key features and expanded workflow tools


  • Free plan does not include customer support and it’s very easy to max out its limitations
  • Limited customization not ideal for companies with complex sales processes


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, eCommerce support and others that foster collaboration across disparate teams. The company has been a player in the cloud computing field from the start. 


  • Sales automation including customer data management, workflows and contract management
  • Customer service and support, including case management and call center management
  • Project management, including tasks, billing and reporting
  • Reporting and analytics, including forecasting and pipeline visualization


  • Ability to automate business processes, including simple tasks like creating automatic email alerts to more time-heavy tasks like filling out orders 
  • Fully customizable, with options to add custom fields and tabs, create email templates and build reporting dashboards


  • Cost of is often higher than other CRM options and increases with customizations and integrations 
  • May be too complex for smaller businesses

Ready To Upgrade Your Client Database Management Solution?

The Accelo client database can enhance client relationships and foster growth while freeing up your employees to focus on their central roles. Try out the platform for yourself by signing up for a free trial or a scheduling a demo.


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