CRM. AMS. What’s the Difference?

Don’t all AMS packages provide CRM capabilities?” The short answer is, “Yes and no.”

As noted in an earlier tip, CRM “…means making the customer the center of the enterprise.” In effect, CRM is not functionality or a technology; it is a strategy and philosophy. At the center of this philosophy is the customer. You need to consistently ask yourself: What can you do as an organization to make your customers’ experience with your organization as pleasant and valuable as possible, thereby ensuring customer loyalty?

Increasingly, a large part of the answer to this question is using technology to make customer interactions fast, easy, and convenient. (For example, I recently received a parking ticket in downtown DC. To pay the ticket, I went online to their website, typed in my ticket number, and paid the ticket with a credit card. The whole transaction took less than two minutes. Now that is customer service. As for the parking ticket, well…)

So back to the question: “Don’t all AMS packages provide CRM capabilities?” Yes, generally speaking, most AMS packages provide very basic CRM functionality, such as allowing your members and customers to go online to update their customer profile, purchase products, or register for an event. More advanced AMS packages will even allow customers to see an entire “profile” of his or her interactions with your organization, showing all purchases, volunteer and committee service, awards, certifications, and more.

But not all AMS packages provide complete CRM capabilities. Beyond the basics, good CRM technology will allow your organization to do the following:

  • Customize your customers’ experience at your website. We’ve all seen this when we go to Log in at Amazon and their website will tell you about other books and products that are related to those you have purchased in the past. Your database can help you do something similar by tracking customers’ transactions and interests and presenting information (new products and services) that will be of value to the customer.
  • Manage workflow – Workflow describes what happens following the instigation of a particular event. For example, what happens once a new member joins your organization? With workflow management, you can “program” your database to do several things once a member joins:
    • send an email immediately to new members, welcoming them to the association;
    • one month after joining, send an email to staff to remind them to call the new members to ensure they’re taking advantage of all the benefits of membership;
    • send an email at six months into their membership asking them to complete a survey on their membership so far.

    All of this can be completed automatically, thus improving your responsiveness to the customer without increasing workload on the staff.

  • Allow for the creation of a “knowledge base” so that all staff has easy access to a searchable warehouse of information, in order to provide quick and concise answers to customer inquiries.

CRM is a business strategy. Good CRM-focused technology can help your organization achieve your CRM goals.

So: Do all AMS packages provide CRM capabilities? Well…yes and no.


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