Getting started with CRM

1. Pick 3 burning issues to fix / improve or new initiatives to generate value. What is important is having a clear picture of the full vision and selecting a technology stack which will support adding functionality as required.

2. Identify metrics to measure the benefits for e.g. increase conversion of website visitors by x percent, decrease admin time to process sales by x days, etc. Start with a baseline measure even if it is an estimate. Build dashboards and reports which can readily show the improvement in the metrics.

3. Identify one person or team to drive and deliver the implementation. Has the mandate to make decisions or can easily get to decision makers.

When it comes to managing the overall change:

4. Ensure that the leadership team is fully bought-in and understands the impact of the new system on the ways of working (the change will not only be a system change but will require changes to processes and how people work)

5. Make the case for change and ensure that it is commonly understood (the why, what, how, etc) across the organization. Most people would agree that emails and spreadsheets are not the most efficient way to work but changing well-established habits and getting someone to log onto a new system and do a task differently requires change effort. Must have a clear answer to the question ‘What’s in it for me?’

6. Don’t underestimate the need for training and communication. These are just as important as the technology and directly lead to better adoption of the system.  

Zaheer Ismail

CRM software applications

A multitude of software solutions have been developed to manage customer relationships.

While there are differences between these applications there are a number of common features which provide functionality to manage key aspects of the customer lifecycle.

  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Service

Social, mobile and analytics (including big data) are new generation features.

These solutions address the key customer management processes: targeting, acquisition, retention and collaboration. Underlying these pillars and core to the success of the organisation and the CRM application is understanding the customer and managing the experience.

Data management

Data in the CRM application is the lifeblood of a successful implementation. The benefits of CRM cannot be realized without relevant and current data.

Typical data management tasks are:

    • Managing duplicate data
    • Ensuring that data is correct, up to date and comprehensive to meet business needs
    • Maintaining data integrity when sourcing data from other applications
    • In general data quality management encompasses accuracy, completeness and currency (how up to date is the data)

To limit bad quality data from entering the crm application do the following:
Identify each point of data entry; this could be manually by users, third party applications or databases, or other internal systems.

For each source assess the data quality level, and identify the specific problem areas.

For users this could be:

  • Lack of training
  • Ambiguous field names
  • Lack of data validation

There may be different reasons where data is sourced from third party and internal systems.

Zaheer Ismail

Getting the most out of your CRM implementation

Key areas to focus on when implementing or improving a CRM system.

  • What CRM-related problem are you trying to solve? Focus on these rather than all available features
  • How will you incent employees to use the CRM system, you need to answer the ‘What’s in it for me?’ question
  • Who will sponsor and continue to back and promote the project?
  • Is the application easy to use? especially compared to what is currently being used?
  • Is there an adequate training and refresher program in place?
  • How will you ensure that the data will be kept current?
  • What other systems and tools can be integrated with to make it more useful? Email and calendar tools, ERP/accounting, human resources, social media, management information, etc
  • Is the CRM application accessible via a mobile device?
  • Think about how would you analyse the data in the application using Analytics tools to improve customer satisfaction, pipeline conversion, customer engagement, etc

Zaheer Ismail

Implementing change

Change management is a vital and often overlooked aspect of implementing a CRM solution. The key elements are:

  • Communication at all levels of the organisation
  • Training
  • Up-to-date user guide / reference
  • User involvement from the beginning especially to ensure usability
  • Demonstrate value and answer the ‘What’s in it for me’ question

Supporting CRM users

Implementing a CRM application is half the journey. Ongoing support for end users is an important part of change management and adoption.

Consider who will be responsible for for:

  • On boarding new users and updating existing users’ details
  • Responding to end user queries and questions
  • Making and testing configuration changes
  • Producing basic reports