A CRM (or “customer relationship management”) is a software application that holds the points of data on an organization's customers, sales, leads and past transactions. CRM's are often integrated with other systems to improve efficiency.
CRMs can be used by different departments within the organization. For example, sales teams use it to identify new leads and track sales opportunities; customer service representatives use to manage customer inquiries and manage their accounts.
Many contact center applications have integrated CRMs that allow call history and other interactions to automatically be recorded.
Other contact centers integrate with third party CRMs (such as those provided by Salesforce.com, SugarCRM.com and Zoho.com). Often, the integration between these applications uses some form of computer telephony integration (CTI) which allows call center agents to work from within the CRM to make or receive phone calls.
Some CRMs are designed to handle all call center related operations. For example, eGain provides a platform that serves as a CRM but also provides an omnichannel experience allowing agents to interact with the CRM as well as with customers via chat and other channels.