Seventy-one percent of users of customer relationship management (CRM) systems are satisfied or very satisfied with their software.

That’s the word in a new survey and first report about CRM users from software selection site Capterra, which describes CRM as the fastest growing business software category.

Forty-seven percent are satisfied, 24 percent are very satisfied, and 18 percent were neutral. Only 7 percent were dissatisfied, and 4 percent very dissatisfied.

This is also a category that is dominated by a handful of big players. A third of all users of customer relationship management systems employ Salesforce, according to the survey. Add CRMs from Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP, and you’ve got three-quarters of the entire market.

Some of the other findings:

  • Businesses spend an average of $150 per user per month on CRMs. Slightly more than 60 percent spend more than $50/month/user.
  • A quarter of users would like to have social media monitoring in their CRM tool, including the ability to pull prospect info from social.
  • CRM’s biggest business impact is on customer retention and customer satisfaction rates.
  • Half of the users adopted a CRM within their company’s first five years of business, and two-third of companies had at least 100 customers when they bought their first CRM.
  • Eighteen percent of companies in retail use CRM, followed by 10 percent in business services, 8 percent in technology, 7 percent in banking/insurance/finance, and 6 percent in manufacturing. Retailers use CRMs mostly to follow purchase behavior over time, recommend upsells, and track loyalty.
  • Next to the big players, the most popular CRMs are Zoho, Act!, and Maximizer, all three of which target small businesses.
  • A quarter of respondents did no demos of CRM software before they made their purchase/lease decision, or they purchased the first one they demoed.
  • The top five most used features, in order: calendar management, email marketing, quote/proposal management, marketing automation integration, and lead scoring. Contact management wasn’t included as a feature choice, Capterra said, because all CRMs have contact management.
  • Forty-four percent have integrated their CRM with a marketing automation platform.

One of the biggest surprises, Capterra director of marketing Katie Hollar told me via email, is that “nearly a third of all users who had switched from a previous CRM said that they did so because their former CRM was no longer supported.”


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This is much higher than other software categories, she said, perhaps because the CRM market is more competitive than others, or perhaps because the CRM industry has a longer history than other types of business software, giving it more time for vendors to go out of business.

She also noted that CRMs “are a gateway to other business software in that you can store all of your business data in the CRM system and integrate it into your accounting, marketing, customer service, and other software as you grow.”

The Capterra survey did not specifically address CRM as a tool within larger tools, such as in marketing clouds or marketing automation platforms. As VentureBeat’s VP of research John Koetsier noted in VB Insight’s recent report on “Marketing Clouds: How the best companies are winning via marketing technology,” many marketing clouds have CRM functionality because they were built, in part, on CRMs:

While the theory is that all the tools in a marketing cloud are built to enable [communication with people across all channels] in a seamless, integrated way, in reality, marketing clouds are built from a variety of starting places, such as marketing automation systems, or customer experience platforms, or data management systems, CRM, and so on.

The 31-question online survey was conducted of 500 randomly chosen users in the U.S. by a third-party polling service, Survata. The only qualifying question was whether they had a CRM. All sizes of businesses are represented, with slightly more respondents from businesses having less than $10M in annual revenue.