The Art of Successful CRM Implementation

The manifold benefits of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are understood, however, the success of any CRM solution lies is in its correct 'implementation'. Explained in this article are some basic and simple guidelines to a successful CRM implementation which can ensure that the intended CRM goals are achieved:

Clearly define requirements:
A very common mistake is that before gaining clarity on organisational objectives, and expected objectives and context of the CRM software, focus is shifted to the possible technology solutions. The right way to begin is to clearly understand and define organisational and program requirements, followed by defining the relevant objectives. Next, all the functions that the CRM solution needs to address should be identified. Core processes need to be understood too – for example, how does the organisation manage contact information when it is first received, how are appropriate data segregations made, how to analyse current data situations, how to mobilise support, etc. In order to gain an in-depth understanding of current data situations, every location that information is currently stored in must be itemised and analysed. Gaps, mistakes, and/or inefficiencies (if any), should be identified and weeded out. It is not wise to proceed directly to technology solutions until there is a very clear picture about current data situations and lost or missed opportunities.

It is crucial that the right people regularly look at customer related metrics – be it weekly, monthly, quarterly, or half yearly. More often, numbers are analysed better if it is for the organisation. The numbers should then be conveyed to the relevant decision makers through easily accessible CRM dashboards.

People management:
Apart from the technology side, it is crucial to give due attention to the people aspect.
  • Incentivize success: It is important to offer good incentives to the workforce, specific, appealing incentives to uphold the CRM strategy should be formulated. Organisational members who make significant contributions to improve key CRM metrics should be given due recognition and rewards.
  • Work culture: The organisation's cultural components should be well managed. 
  • Adequate training: Demonstrations, eLearning and training should be imperative.
  • Spotlight key employees: Hands on attention should be given to the influential people in the organisation.
  • Accountability: Issues related to data ownership and management should be solved on time.
  • Improve performance: Adding constituent responsibilities to job descriptions and inclusion of key metrics in quarterly performance reviews is a good idea. 
Set realistic timelines for making changes:
When the decision to implement a CRM solution is taken, it is vital to resist any kind of internal and external pressures hinting towards hastiness. Organisations should set realistic timelines to absorb and accept changes in systems and processes, and to switch to more streamlined and organised solutions that CRM software introduce. While it is productive to bring about process changes and to switch tools, the same can also be a disruptive and expensive with some CRM vendors. Organisations must thoroughly assess their capability to adapt to the change, both in terms of financial impacts, and also the ability of the workforce to adjust to the updated goals. In the interim period that a workforce gets adjusted to new processes and tools, there may sometimes be a temporary productivity downturn. In such a scenario, complete understanding and support should be provided in every possible way. Extra help, if required, should be brought in for a short time until a complete adjustment. This will ascertain that uncomplicated and easy buy-ins are obtained from all the people involved.

Define clear data quality strategies:
Inaccurate, duplicate, missing, and redundant data will attenuate the quality of reports and the overall CRM solution. It also reduces workforce motivation to use the system to its full capability. It is therefore necessary to define clear cut strategies for data quality management and not put too many people in charge of the same. Complete clarity about methods and sources of data collection, and how the data should be managed and entered is mandatory. Uniformity in the way that CRM tools collect data is important too – for example, naming conventions for user interfaces should be easily understood across teams and territories. Opt for a solution that assists in regularly purging duplicates and ensuring clean data.

5 Benefits of CRM success

A well managed CRM solution assists in organising business leads and company contacts, it helps in lead management and reduces monotonous daily tasks, and also elevates conversion ratios. CRM also helps ensure that the business is always up-to-date about activities relating to existing as well as potential customers.

Effective CRM software can work across multiple email providers/ platforms, and enable users to send instant replies with auto-populated personalized messages. It also helps identify emails from specific IDs or domains and assign messages based on their subject line or body's content. Using a CRM solution, users are also empowered to organise and sync customer data with preferred email clients through dynamic and manual mailing lists.

Real-time Feeds
CRM applications can display real time information and updates about customers’ current activities and areas of interest. The software compiles data originating from multiple sources and presents it in popular formats to provide additional intelligence required for working more effectively.

Task Management
CRM solutions make task management much simpler. Especially where there is work and data overload, and a streamlined system is required to sort and categorise information, CRM systems are a boon. Users can create, update and delete appointment, log-a-call, To-Do and other related records whenever required.

Performance Management
One of the most important functions of a CRM solution for many organizations is performance analysis. To name a few advantages, CRM software helps in making comparisons between results and projections, shows the quantum of business being generated from established customers and expected from leads, and also exhibits number of customers gained or lost in a particular time period. With the recent introduction of social performance management, teams from across geograpies can work collaboratively to improve performance and increase repeat business.

A CRM solution is only as good as its effective implementation, utilization and management. Reviews and updations related to CRM enhancements and features are essential from time to time too. 

When implemented well, CRM solutions can go a long way in bringing numerous benefits to organisations – be it boosting sales and productivity, accuracy in forecasts, ease in management of customer data, customer activity tracking, etc. A company can successfully manage gigantic volumes and variety of customer information, and become extremely efficient and organised when an excellent CRM solution is implemented in the best way possible.