CRM is a powerful tool in the armoury of any customer-focused organisation. There are many benefits to be had in automating processes, saving time and increasing sales output. A CRM system should be your single repository for all customer interactions, task management, meeting notes, emails, reminders, forecasting and reporting. Some do even more than that.
But many CRM implementations go wrong. For whatever reason they just don’t deliver the benefit they promised at the outset.
Here’s a few tips to set you on the right course:
1. Identify who’s going to use it.
Sounds easy, but often someone’s needs are forgotten. How many users are there now, what departments are they in, what are their needs, how many users are there likely to be in the next 2-3 years. This alone can greatly impact on the system you choose as vendor pricing is typically designed for a certain business segment.
2. Design it for the users.
Those who are expected to use it every day need to be happy that it’s made their life easier. If not, they won’t. Simple. There’s often a big business driver such as reporting, but the primary design of the system should be around the users. Reports and dashboards can come later. Cut out unnecessary modules or fields as users resent inputting meaningless data and start skipping it – along with the more important stages.
3. Avoid budget blowouts down the track.
Costs can vary depending on whether the vendor charges for user licenses (a single user being someone with a unique username and password), number of features/version, a combination of both, or in some cases the size of your contact database as well. It’s important you have a good idea of your needs so you can budget. If you hunt around there are some basic free CRM systems to be found, but usually they’re either not very good, tied to the use of another platform, or very restrictive in what you can do leading to expensive add on’s later.
4. Desktop or Mobile.
What’s the primary access point of the people that will use it most. If they’re field reps then they’ll probably be using a mobile or tablet app. What features are available, how well does it access information from the desktop version. Meetings, notes, calls, accessing or sending docs, creating follow ups are all things you might consider.
Do you have a separate accounting system, ERP, customer service tool or marketing automation system that you’ll need to integrate. Most systems can be integrated to some degree, most vendors will claim theirs easy, but in practice it’s not always straightforward. Check and test if possible before you commit.
6. Data Migration.
Similar to above, if you have been using an old system or combination of legacy systems for a while then it may not be easy to get meaningful data out of it. Figure out what you can get, what you can live with, what you can live without, and be prepared for user backlash if something important is unmovable. A cost-benefit analysis may be helpful or a cohesive business case you can quickly explain to the unhappy party!
7. What are your goals.
1 month, 6 months, beyond. Is it to mobilise your sales force, is it to keep better track of customer information, increase sales, something else. Write them down and regularly refer to them – particularly in the first few months – so you can come back to measure against them. Your goals may shift down the track, which is ok, but you’ll give your chances of success a boost if you can stick to achieving what you set out to do. You may need to remind others too.
8. Implementation and training.
How many users are there, how big is the change on the business, how do people in your organisation usually adapt to change. We find it’s best to measure an implementation in number of weeks. If you pile too much change into a single release or put too much pressure on it will likely have a negative effect on how people embrace it. Conversely, if you let the roll out drift on endlessly for months then it’ll lose momentum and you’ll start to see eyes glaze over as you continually talk about what it’s going to be like when it’s all in place..
Hopefully this guide helps set you off in the right direction. There are other things that may come up may when you consider your own circumstances, so if you’d like to know more or have someone give you a hand working out your implementation plan, please get in touch.