Guide
CRM: Create a place to manage customer relationships

Most businesses rely on CRMs. What if you could build one to suit your exact needs?

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A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system changes the game when it comes to managing your communications with customers. It saves you time, makes your sales and customer support teams function way more effectively and greatly benefits the customer experience. You can build a custom one, perfectly set up for the needs of your business, with no-code tools.

If you’ve ever missed out by not following up on a potential new customer, forgotten to respond to a complaint, or replied to a query when someone else in your team already had it covered, then you really need a CRM. Creating a centralised place where you can store customer information, share leads, and collaborate on communications makes sense for pretty much every business out there. 

While you might choose to buy a CRM tool off-the-shelf, creating a custom one that’s perfectly set up for the needs and demands of your business is far more straightforward than you might think. No-code tools actually really excel in this area.  

Wtf is a no-code CRM?

CRM is a pretty ubiquitous term that you’ve probably come across many times before. It’s basically a system for managing your relationships with customers: software that stores customer information, manages all the communication you have with each customer, and assigns tasks to people in your team. All your customer interactions are in one place and easy to access and analyse for the teams who need it – whether that’s your sales, support or marketing departments.  

CRM tools come with plenty of time-saving features. You can create templates and automate responses to typical customer requests (such as asking for help…). You can automatically ‘assign’ different leads to sales reps in your teams and set reminders for follow ups. Your customers can also use it to raise any issues they might have with your product or services in a seamless, structured way.

Например:

On a small business scale, let’s imagine you run a bakery. Word is out about your amazing sourdough, and now numerous local cafes and restaurants want to buy your bread. You’ve hired a salesperson and you need a system to keep track of all the venues that they’re speaking to. A CRM is perfect for building a database of possible customers, setting reminders to check in with people, and moving interested parties down the ol’ sales funnel. You could use this database of customers to run a loyalty program and save them some money, or even allow your bakery team to track any issues with the bread in your CRM. 

On a larger scale, let’s say you run a real estate agency. Your staff are swamped with requests for viewings and home reports, and you’ve had a few incidents where they’ve forgotten to follow up with potential buyers. A CRM will let you automate responses to typical requests, set up team sales targets, and manage lease, rent and maintenance issues for your rental properties. Plus anyone in your team can see and respond to customer queries, making sure nothing gets missed.

An example of a CRM built with Notion

What problems can it solve? 

  • It eliminates repetitive tasks. Building your own CRM with no-code tools lets you automate regular processes that are specific to your business – like assigning leads to your sales reps or setting up personalised email templates.
  • You don’t have to pay for features you’ll never use. Off-the-shelf CRM tools are bloated, offering way more features than the average user needs. With no-code tools, you only build the features that you need – simplifying the design of your CMS and saving you cash. 
  • You don’t have to work with programmers. No-code tools are quicker and cheaper to use than designing your own CRM with a software developer.
  • It’s great for keeping customer records. You’ll have complete control over your customer contact details. Plus, these can be stored alongside all the communications they’ve had with you and your team – staff can quickly access any past messages to solve problems.
  • Your CRM will be set up for your exact needs. Ultimately, if you buy an off-the-shelf CRM, you need to remember that it was built for a generic business. When you build your own CRM, it's built around your business and your processes, and can adapt accordingly.
Here's what Pipedrive looks like

Who needs to know?

Sectors: 

No-code CRMs are useful for pretty much every business looking to better manage their communication and interaction with customers. In particular, sectors where there's a constant stream of emails like retail or real estate will find a real benefit.

But they’re not just for people who sell products or services. CRMs are also a great option for people who manage some kind of online community too. 

Departments: 

No-code CRM software is useful for any sales team but especially for those who struggle to coordinate with customer support and marketing. If your spreadsheet, whiteboard or sticky note system is getting hard to follow, then it’s time to look at no-code solutions.

What’s the nuance? 

  • To build your own CRM using no-code tools, knowing how databases work is handy. If you can use Excel or Airtable to display data in tables and link between records, you’re probably good to go. (For more on that, check our database fundamentals tutorial
  • You’ll also need to know about permissions and the role they play. That essentially means thinking about what different users can do when they’re using the app you’ve built. Answering questions like who can and can’t view specific details, like your customer contact details; or who should be able to edit the page and change settings?
  • Off-the-shelf CRMs are often overloaded with 3rd party plugins. Building with no-code tools means that you’ll need to figure out which features are most useful for your business, and how to incorporate them into your new system. 
  • You need to bring everyone with you. It’ll help if your team is all on the same page when you move to your new CRM. Make sure you train them to use the new system and document everything you build.
  • You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Most no-code tools have templates and use-cases that you can copy to create your own CRM.
  • You need to think of the legal side of things. CRM software is essentially for recording customer contacts and data. Make sure you know about data protection laws like GDPR.
  • Consider who’ll be accessing it. If you’re looking to set up a CRM for something like a community, you’ll probably want it to be public rather than private. That’s a key distinction – and it might narrow down the no-code tools you’re able to use. 
A CRM Kanban board built on Stacker

Which no-code tools are worth knowing about?

Beginners: 

If you have a small team and don’t need to worry about who can do or edit what (permissions), Notion is a great place to start. If you don’t want everyone seeing everything, check out Airtable. Both tools are pretty straightforward to use. 

Intermediate: 

Stacker is slightly more complicated but is much more customisable – if you have a lot of customer data, this is the tool for you. Pipedrive is also a great tool for this level. 

Expert: 

Internal is a borderline low-code tool. You definitely need some technical chops to make the most of this very flexible tool.

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