Some organizations spend a lot of money on customer relationship management software (CRM) software but fail to achieve the return on investment they expected. But, like all software, CRM software is unlikely to produce results if not implemented properly.
It is easy to get started on most CRM packages. You enter a few names and addresses, and you record a few basic details about customers, and off you go. But if that’s as far as you go with CRM, all you have purchased a costly address book!
Implemented and used correctly, CRM software can bring considerable benefits to a business. Get it wrong, though, and CRM will be something that employees grudgingly update but rarely gain anything from using. Here are ten tips to ensure that your investment in CRM software is not wasted.
- Set Your Objectives
Merely deciding that you want to use CRM in your organization is not enough. You need to know what you want to achieve and how you are going to implement the software. Start the planning process by defining a set of high-level goals. Look at how your internal processes will need to be changed to make the most of CRM, and consider how CRM fits in with your overall business development plan. CRM software should be a dynamic tool that improves how you manage relationships. If you fail to plan a CRM implementation, the software will become little more than a repository of unused data.
- Get the Entire Team on Board
You will get better results from a CRM implementation if everyone is on board and recognizes the software’s value. So, get everyone involved in the project from the start. Ask senior managers what information they need from CRM software to enable them to make better decisions. Find out what employees need from CRM and how implementing the software could save them time. Make sure that everyone in the organization understands what the business can gain by using CRM software. Everyone in the company must realize that CRM is not a tool solely for salespeople. CRM can benefit many of the functional areas of a business and help the company achieve its goals.
- Assign a Project Manager or Super-User
In a large organization, you will need a project manager to oversee the implementation of CRM software, and you will need a super-user who will be the individual who provides internal support on the application and works on the ongoing development of your use of the software. In a small business, the two roles will likely be filled by one individual on a part-time basis. Either way, it is best to assign a software champion to maximize the benefits of CRM.
- Provide Adequate Training
Lack of training is one of the most common reasons businesses fail to get the most out of CRM software. So, ensure that management and workers receive adequate training on the CRM application you choose. You need to invest sufficient time in training so that employees can get to grips with all aspects of the software. If workers are not trained adequately, they will likely revert to using the spreadsheets they used before. It will also help to provide refresher training courses after any software upgrades to keep employees updated with any new software features.
- Integrate CRM With Other Business Systems
Ideally, your CRM software should become the single source of information about your business contacts. The objective that the CRM software provides the complete picture of interactions with a customer or contact. For that to happen, the software will need data from systems like marketing tools, eCommerce platforms, support desk software, and ERP or accounting systems. Integrating the CRM package with these other systems will avoid the need for data to be entered manually twice. Integration on a large-scale project might be achieved through seamless, real-time updates between systems. In a smaller business with a smaller budget, updates might be completed via batch updates or imports.
- Connect to Social Media
The best CRM packages include social media integration. Connecting to social media will allow you to track and respond to what your customers and prospects are posting online. For example, social media integration will enable you to respond faster to comments left online about your brand or products. It can also help you better understand what issues your customers face and what topics interest them. Understanding what customers are talking about on social media will enable you to target your marketing and possibly identify new markets.
- Use CRM Automation Features
Many organizations fail to take full advantage of the task automation futures of CRM software packages. Ironically, this is often due to people not having the time to explore the automation features. Often, employees are too busy manually completing the very tasks that could be automated. CRM software can automate things like email sequences, customer service workflows, pipeline management, and more. CRM automation can free up people’s time so they can focus more on customer interactions. So, automation is a feature that shouldn’t be overlooked because it can bring significant benefits to any size of business.
- Extract Business Intelligence From CRM
Once you have been using CRM for a while, the software should become a valuable business intelligence source. Record all the relevant data in your CRM software, and you will be able to do a lot more than managing your customer relationships. A well-implemented CRM package will become the central source of information about your customers. The data held in CRM will help you monitor the success of marketing campaigns, identify which interactions customers prefer, and highlight customer buying trends. The key performance indicators (KPIs) that CRM software can produce could help you monitor and improve customer engagement at all levels. So, explore your CRM software’s reporting capabilities, and you will likely find a goldmine of valuable information.
- Ensure Timely and Consistent Data Entry
The information you get out of any CRM software will only be good as the data entered into the system. So, it would be best to make required data fields compulsory and define how data fields will be entered. Addresses are a prime example of where things can go wrong if everyone doesn’t follow the same template. Suppose you want to report by zip code, for example. In that case, the zip code will need to be entered in a consistent field. Employees should also be encouraged to update CRM as they perform tasks so that you have real-time data. The usefulness of CRM data will be significantly diminished if people only update the software at the end of each month.
- Customize the Software to Your Needs
Finally, avoid using CRM software straight out of the box. CRM software is designed to be used by many different types of businesses. You will usually find that there are many ways you can customize the software to suit your needs. Customizing workflows, data fields, and reports will help you get what you need out of your CRM software. Tailoring the software to meet your precise requirements will also help you get the buy-in from your employees.
CRM software can be a valuable business tool. But you need to invest time in setting up the software and training staff on how to use the package. To gain the best results, you should integrate CRM with other business applications and use the automation features. Get the entire team on board and use CRM its fullest extent, and you will soon start to wonder how you managed without it.