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CRM vs. CSP: A Head to Head Comparison of Customer-centric Platforms

Do CRMs and CSPs overlap, and can you choose one over the other? Read on to see how they differ and which one you and your business can’t live without.
October 20, 2022

Just like your customers, you are looking to streamline with as few services as possible that have everything you need and nothing you don’t. So when it comes to the two most common customer-centric platforms—customer relationship management (CRM) services and customer success platforms (CSP)—you probably want to know how the two stack up against each other.

Are these two different words for the same concept? (Spoiler alert: Nope.)

Head to Head Comparison of Customer-centric Platforms

(Sora Shimazaki / pexels)

Do CRMs and CSPs overlap, and can you choose one over the other? Read on to see how they differ and which one you and your business can’t live without.

CRMs packs a new-revenue punch

CRMs are built to handle potential customers—that is, sales. And they are powerful, offering the following advantages:

Useful for sales: pursue leads, monitor progress, improve sales performance, simplify processes, seize revenue opportunities.

Useful for data: preserve detailed customer information, buying habits, and preferences along with positive and negative feedback, all in one place.

Useful for productivity: manage workflows and sales motions.

CSPs hit back with revenue-expansion features

CSPs enable the CS team to proactively assist customers in achieving their goals. Think of it as the type of concierge assistant one could find in a full-service department store in the days of yore. If you want your customers to stick around and continue to pay for your services, get to know them and be able to anticipate their needs before they reach out for extra support or, worse yet, leave without so much as a word.

Useful for revenue: allows a business to capture recurring revenue opportunities as it identifies renewal, cross-selling, and up-selling connections; builds customer loyalty; aids targeted marketing endeavors.

Useful for anti-churn measures: extensive and all-inclusive service that promotes value-creation and improves customer retention; pinpoint and rectify onboarding issues to keep customers committed.

Useful for deeper customer insight: better understanding of how customers are interacting with products and services.

Useful for customer touch: more involvement with customers; manage mid- or high-level touchpoints; help your customer’s growth.

Useful for automated, yet personal, functions: use KPI (key performance indicators) to trigger automatic functions; help existing CS team skillfully automate and manage goals.

Useful for boosting CRM: gain more in-depth insights into the customer’s journey, allowing the existing CRM team to make correlations among data.

Who’s the winner?

CRM boosts sales, no doubt. But, that can’t be the end goal if a portion of your profit must come from recurring revenue. You’ve probably heard that it costs more to create a new customer than to keep an old one. Some may even go as far as to put a number to that stat (like “It costs five times more.”). Regardless of the actual multiplier, nurturing the SaaS/client relationship versus being uninvolved is better for business.

With so many services to choose from, customers need an incentive to stay with you. When you boost your engagement with them, you learn more about their needs and can match them up with additional education or services to help improve workflow, revenue, and satisfaction.

CRMs can show you customer data, but they don’t have the analytical capabilities of CSPs, like product use or adoption rate of new features. Certainly, there’s a way to work around these issues in the short term. Still, those require more time and technology, so the best bet is to embrace an intuitive CSP.

CRMs help drive sales, but it doesn’t improve how efficiently you can guide existing customers through their lifecycle and introduce them to valuable training and add-ons. With CSP, you develop a loyal customer base and have the necessary insight to tailor cross-selling and up-selling marketing materials to improve the customer experience and drive sales. The products and services you promote to your customers will be worthwhile for them.

With a CRM-only vantage point, there’s little to no idea of a customer’s actual use of your service. Also, you can’t see if they’ve followed training or onboarding steps that are crucial for their success. CSP gives you that data and can help develop a blueprint to provide the services your customers need.

CSP and CRM for the win

CSPs and CRMs are both champion business tools in an era where the pendulum is swinging from hands-off to personalized, value-added service with a smile. Implementing these tools for your business can be invaluable.

And what’s more is the two platforms compound, offering more value together than they would individually. In the end, it’s not about choosing a CSP over your CRM— a good CSP will enhance your CRM’s value (and vice versa).

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