Any CRM system you care to name will organise your clients for you in a wide variety of ways – but it can’t think for you.
It doesn’t know what it doesn’t know
Many out of the box CRM’ systems are excellent, as far as they go but they will not have an innate understanding of your business processes. They will have no idea what your key metrics, clients, products or markets are. Worse, they will have no idea how your team operates, how they structure their work, what information they need to function and how that information must be presented. So you need to consider carefully how flexible and configurable your solution can be and the associated costs for changing it, otherwise you may need to change your processes to fit
Handsome is as handsome does
Let’s face it, there are some great looking CRM systems out there with lots and lots (and lots) of functions and pretty reports, but, hang on a minute, what are those reports telling you about your business? Let’s go back and think about why you are making this investment in the first place. You have spotted inefficiencies, identified lost sales opportunities and are failing to present the right message to the right customer at the right time. If you can fix those issues all will be well with the world and you will be able to point to a significant, measurable RoI. In short, it’s possible to be data rich and information poor. If your system doesn’t provide the information you need, it won’t do the job you needed it to do and help you improve your operation where it needs it. A CRM supports your operation, not delivers it. How does your CRM support you?
A good CRM offer will be extremely adaptable and will be capable of moulding to your requirements. A great offer will include detailed process analysis by the system provider which provides three, really important things for you.
- A thorough analysis that involves all your stakeholders. As a senior manager you may not be completely familiar with the details of your business processes. Sure, you know what goes in one end and of course you know all about the output but what, exactly, happens in between?
- A system that genuinely mirrors your current process (Bonus: It will often highlight areas of improvement you hadn’t thought of), so it will generate the output you need and your team will actually use it!
- A working system, built by experts, to your exact specification, deploying the appropriate toys and treats available to you that might otherwise take you months to understand
An integrated world
In due course though, you will want to make changes yourself (i.e. not involving IT) so you need to choose a product that does in fact facilitate self-service. Also, look for one that will allow you to easily upload your existing database(s), cleaning and de-duping as it goes along. For many, integration with existing systems, tools and applications will also be important.
Will it link to your phone system? Integrating your CRM and your phone system can deliver huge operational improvements
Will it act as a back-end to your website? Seamless integration with a website allows staff and customers and members to perform loads of self-service operations.
Will it pull and update records from a permanent legacy system? Integrating data from disparate systems will give a single version of the truth. Will your solution facilitate this?
If the system you’re looking at does all of this, at a budget that makes sense, then you’re on to a winner, if it doesn’t, finding a solution that can do all of this need not cost the world, nor is it impossible to find so it just might be worth considering some alternatives.