Ask yourself what you could do better in your business or organization and the chances are a well-designed, implemented and managed customer relationship management (CRM) solution could help. For many, however, the concept of CRM conjures up little more than a glorified contact system, a modern-day Rolodex used only by the sales team.
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The reality of modern CRM solutions is very different and the list of areas across which it can be applied is only limited by your imagination. Or perhaps driven by necessity. CRM can help manage data, run marketing campaigns, streamline sales processes, help prevent the loss of customers to the competition and make new opportunities more obvious. It can also make it easier for sales people to sell, and it can improve customer service along with a whole range of business processes in between. Contract management, event management, asset management, training management ... the list of capabilities goes on. Better still, CRM can help you to consolidate fragmented data and information, and provide real-time views of the world.
However, for a variety of reasons, there are CRM project failures. They happen. As a result, many people have a distorted view of CRM. This typically comes from a poor experience with a badly conceived system or even a home-made solution.
Don't let history or legacy put you off. Instead, ensure that you have a better chance of success when you set off on your CRM journey. Here are 10 CRM do's and don'ts that'll help ensure the success of your CRM project. (Read more in Why CRM Strategies Fail (and What to Do About It.)
DON'T see CRM as just software
Even for small implementations, a CRM project is a strategic shift involving staff, processes and procedures.
DO allocate internal resources and schedule staff time specifically dedicated to your CRM project
Your CRM service provider will be able to advise you on the amount of time and resources required - it varies between organizations and projects.
DON'T choose a CRM software solution until you know what you want
Carefully consider what you want your system to do, and set some objectives and KPIs. Once you've identified the key factors and "pains" you need to overcome, you can then decide on the best software to do the job.
DO adopt and work to a CRM project management methodology
At TSG, we've developed our own methodology to ensure that projects are managed seamlessly from the initial contact, through development, to handover and beyond to ongoing system support.
DO get buy-in from your staff
Make sure that staff clearly see the advantages, have provided input, understand the system and are trained to use it properly. (Learn about some of the challenges in Saving CRM: Why Sales Staff Isn't on Board.)
DO review the system on a regular basis
As your business changes, so will your CRM system. Regularly review its functionality from a process, user and technical perspective.
DON'T forget to update your documentation, processes and procedures
Documentation needs to be updated to reflect changes when you alter, update or change your CRM system.
DO take time to choose the right service provider
Make sure they are experienced: check their references, technical accreditations and ask for case studies of previous work. Above all, your CRM service provider should demonstrate a clear understanding of your business requirements and be able to translate these to business benefits.
And be sure to choose a business partner that provides a full range of services, has more than one CRM software option, and can demonstrate their ability to implement your CRM system quickly, with minimal disruption to your business.
DON'T stop communicating!
Arguably, the most common cause of failure of CRM projects is poor communication. This includes internal communications, such as those between IT, project managers and end users, as well as between service providers and client companies.
Finally, when you’re making your decision, be warned that not all systems are equal, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch for hidden extras and remember that sorting out problems may be more costly than getting it right in the first place - not only in financial terms but also in terms of the the less tangible damage caused by the process.