Great customer relationships are the bedrock of a thriving business and the key to success. The Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software market has reached maturity and most vendors offer a proven set of functionalities to serve the needs of organisations today.
Implementing a CRM system can be a challenge, especially for small and mid-size companies that tend to have limited or no dedicated IT teams. With CRM comes also a review of the way the business operates, how departments get the job done and how they make decisions. A CRM project includes technology, people and business processes and all of those elements need to be considered in unison in order to drive success.
Here are our top tips to guarantee success:
ACTIVE EXECUTIVE ENGAGEMENT
For any CRM project to be successful there must be support from the leadership team. By support we don’t just mean a willingness to sign the cheque (although clearly that helps!) but a true buy-in from the top that affirms the commitment of the business to the CRM project. Business leaders must manage competing requirements and set business priorities. They must clearly define the management information requirements. If the CRM system is really going to improve the business, it will need to deliver good quality KPI’s, so the right people can make the right decisions.
CLEAR PROJECT OBJECTIVES
We encourage you to really consider what you are trying to achieve by investing in CRM and how your business might be different in 6-12 months with a successfully deployed solution. What is the business case for implementing CRM? Without that, you’ll struggle to drive the project, get it adopted and you’ll be unable to demonstrate its impact.
It is also important to recognise that different teams inside your business will have different and often competing priorities. The sales team’s number one priority might be more leads, whilst the customer services team might feel that a new support system is more important. Prioritising and clearly defining your objectives will go a long way. And don’t forget to determine from the outset how you are going to measure results and performance against those objectives.
IDENTIFY YOUR CHAMPIONS
Like many things in life, the difference between success and failure will be one person or a small group of people who realise the value of the project, understand the problems it’s going to solve, and dedicate time and energy to making it happen.
You may want to consider choosing a (or a few) champion(s) of change within your organisation. When implementing CRM, you could consider starting with a single functional area and go with the domino effect. Choose a department with a manager who’s behind the project, realises its benefits, and whose department will gain the most early on. Nothing jump-starts a CRM implementation more than someone who always has that ‘can-do attitude’ and gets people around him/her motivated. Once others begin to see success, they are more likely to follow suit.
INVOLVE USERS IN THE EARLY STAGES
In the enthusiasm to get a system implemented, sometimes the people who actually use the system day-to-day don’t get properly consulted. Put yourself in your users’ shoes, look at the WIFM (What’s in It For Me), understand their job and how the system will impact each of them.
You certainly do not want to reach a point where users resent the new system and don’t see the value. Keep in mind that the new CRM will undoubtedly challenge what they are used to; and if they don’t feel like stakeholders they can be resistant to change. The best way to avoid this it to get them involved, get their input early in the process so they feel they are part of the decision making process and contributor to future successes.
NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE TIME IT WILL TAKE TO MIGRATE YOUR EXISTING DATA
Whether you use a spreadsheet, database, post-it notes, or a combination of all three, you are bound to have some data you want to move to your new CRM system.
Now is a great time to go through and cleanse your data, remove duplicates, tidy up addresses/people that have left or just take stock of what you have.
REVIEW & RETHINK PROCESSES
CRM projects are started because the existing systems and processes don’t deliver the desired results. Simply replacing technology and not reviewing processes is unlikely to improve performance and output.
When implementing a new CRM solution, seize the opportunity to review and improve underlying business processes. Again user engagement here can be key. We often find that when asked, people running a particular process or function can identify ways to improve it, given the opportunity and the right support. It helps to identify which processes run within a department (such as sales forecasting) and which ones go across teams. When a process runs across a business, it makes sense to get the stakeholders together to discuss how the process can be improved. Always ask questions and challenge the status quo. Why do we do it this way? Are the factors that defined a particular process in the first place still relevant? This ‘review and rethink approach’ doesn’t need to be complex and a good CRM vendor will guide you through it.
UNDERSTAND WHERE YOUR BUSINESS IS HEADING
Change is the constant! As your business grows, so will your requirements and the intricacy of your processes. It is critical that you ensure that the system you are buying and implementing will support you through growth. If you don’t plan ahead, time and money can be wasted on additional add-ons / modules or point solutions.
It is better to think ahead and factor this in from the beginning. Focus on what the business needs for the next 12 – 18 months, not for the next 5 to 10 years as your business will have changed before you get there!
Schedule in time for training, and make sure people aren’t being disturbed. A few minutes interruption during training can cost you hours or even days later on if they don’t pick up some key ways of working with your new system.
TRANSITION / MIGRATION
Try and plan the migration of data and transition to the system at a quiet period in your business. If this isn’t possible try and make sure that you have some people available to help answer questions from within your organisation, or roll out the new CRM solution in a number of smaller, more manageable chunks (phased launch).
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PARTNER
The CRM software market is mature, so whether you are considering using Workbooks or one of our competitors such as Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics, you will find that most solutions provide a rich set of features.
Review what you want to undertake yourselves (if anything) and where you need help. Consider what resources and budget will be required to support the implementation and ensure it meets your needs.
Ask yourself which partner will best accompany you on your CRM journey and help you the most in transforming your business. Make your selection based on technology, processes and people as all of these will impact your ROI.