There is one simple truth behind any technology implementation:
The technology is only as good as the strategy behind it.
Knowing why and how you’re going to be using a CRM means putting in the work upfront on a customer relationship management strategy. This strategic discipline will help your organization configure the CRM in ways that optimize workflows.
This article will give you some pointers for developing a strategy that will help your organization use CRM technology to close more leads.
Customer Relationship Management Strategy 101
CIO.com asked a network of CRM experts about their recommendations for maximizing the software to get the most return on their investment. These executives provided some excellent tips for developing a strategy for your CRM. We added in our own two cents, based on our experience with dozens of clients currently using Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Evaluating Use Cases
The first and most consistent feedback given by these experts is that due diligence must be applied when evaluating CRM use cases. Ask department heads and employees how they plan on using the software. A good consultant can help you work through this process by taking this input and then mapping workflows from end-to-end.
All CRMs can be customized and most use automation to speed up workflows. Adapting your CRM to utilize these features requires solid knowledge of what your internal teams want. It requires that they fully understand the benefits of the CRM and how it can help them deliver better customers experiences. Meeting these needs will help improve user adoption and stakeholder buy-in.
Intuitive User Interface
CIO.com points out that this process will also help with the user interface when designing fields within the CRM. A CRM record and dashboard can all be configured to fit a specific function, so grouping fields together in intuitive ways and creating customized reports are all important. The goal is to make sure the screens flow logically to follow user workflows. This will speed up the time spent adding in minute details and ultimately increase efficiency.
Data Capture Rules
Next, organizations must discuss what is expected from employees in terms of capturing data. Setting the “rules of engagement” is part of any customer relationship management strategy. For example, sales and customer service representatives must agree to enter client conversations into the CRM, capturing information that could be crucial to managing the customer relationship down the road. Look for the wants, needs, and priorities of the client, and then record that data so the organization can provide personalized service.
Also, make sure the data is being entered in real-time. Any CRM can fail a company if the data is not added in a timely manner. Imagine if a customer calls with a complaint. If the customer account manager fails to enter this data and a sales rep just happens to be traveling on site, a meeting could go south because crucial information wasn’t shared between departments. This is a terrific benefit of cloud technology – but you have to record the data to take advantage of it.
Tracking Client Engagement
Another important customer relationship management strategy is to make certain you are tracking how the client engages with your team. This includes more than recording conversations in a customer record; it also involves documenting what white papers they’ve downloaded, interactions they have had with your brand on social media, events they may have attended, and more. This will help you gain a more accurate picture of what makes your client tick. That way you’ll be more likely to be able to predict what will resonate with the client in the future.
Tip: Many of these functions can be automated in Dynamics CRM!
Integration With Other Apps
Make certain that you have a plan for integrating all the departments in your business that have to do with client service. A CRM should be intertwined with all other client-facing systems in your business. The goal is to develop a 365-degree personalized view of the client from sales to operations to billing. Don’t miss out on opportunities to fine-tune the client relationship because backend departments weren’t aware of what was happening on the front end – and vise versa.
A CRM should integrate with your calendars and be mobile-friendly, so you’ll be able to send an appointment invite from wherever you are and then feel comfortable knowing the data is appropriately recorded in the CRM.
Database Clean Up
Companies should designate one super-user or administrator to maintain their database. Setting processes that include a records search before adding a new record will help eliminate duplicates before they occur. However, humans make mistakes, so it’s wise to periodically give a CRM a good spring-cleaning. Work with marketing to ensure that any email bounces are corrected or removed. Do a spot-check to be sure naming conventions are followed and files are being appropriately loaded into the system.
Training and Feedback
Providing plenty of training along with elbow-to-elbow support during go-live will help ensure best practices throughout your CRM lifecycle. Don’t forget to plan for employee turnover and provide a mechanism for continual training in any software – not just a CRM. It’s also important to provide a mechanism for user feedback and further customization or training in the CRM. All of these steps will help teams provide better support to clients.
Develop a Customer Relationship Management Strategy Before You Buy
You already probably know that not all CRM software is created equal. We highly recommend an evaluative process before you sign any CRM contract. This process, utilizing the tips we’ve shared for developing a CRM strategy, will help inform the vendor and software search you undertake.
We know that most companies do not fully utilize their CRM software. But sitting down and evaluating your goals, the current systems that are in place, and inter-departmental workflows will help your organization begin to develop a roadmap for what you’re looking for in a CRM. Contact IES to help you maximize your customer relationship management strategy for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.