Whilst the term customer relationship management may seem a little daunting it needn’t be because it is just a process that you can set up in your business. CRM is a combination of processes, people and technology that helps you to understand your customers, that brings a joined up approach to focusing on retaining and developing the relationship with your customers.
The time is more important than ever to have an effective customer relationship management process within your business, generally your customers are no longer just ‘local’, we have global competition and competitors that are prepared to go that extra mile to ensure they seem local whilst being somewhere else in the world.
We are also in unprecedented times of uncertainty, change and rising inflation due to our decision last year to leave the European Union which will only add to the challenges of attracting new customers and retaining existing ones.
Embedding CRM successfully within your business will result in you reaping the rewards in customer loyalty and long running profits, please be aware however that achieving successful implementation can be difficult if you do not ensure it is adopted company-wide in and across your people and processes.
Although there are many CRM systems available that have been developed to support the proven best practice CRM process but please note implementing a CRM solution alone without making the changes to people and processes will not give you that successful customer relationship management process that you are looking for within your business.
We have outlined five key success points to consider and define before embarking on implementing CRM for your business:
1. Management Leadership
As CRM can be a serious investment in terms of organisation, time and money it should be made to support your company’s goals and objectives and your first step is the need to articulate WHY you want to implement CRM in the first place. When you do understand WHY you are doing this you need to communicate it to everyone involved, the rest of the organisation must also understand WHY you are doing this and that the project has your backing and support.
Ensure you begin by prioritising the planning phases, ensuring users are engaged and involved throughout. Also, make sure the approach includes developing a plan for implementing CRM which details how it is supported and maintained ongoing.
As CRM is about your relationships with your customers it is all about the data and information you hold about them, the importance of good quality data cannot be underestimated. To make sure your CRM data is a real asset to your business, data should be selected carefully and updated and maintained regularly and accurately.
If you are looking to outsource the implementation of CRM for your business ensure that you carefully select the right partner, it should be to someone who has industry and process knowledge to support your needs and that can bring your project to life for your business and employees.
5. The right software solution
As briefly mentioned earlier, remember, software alone will not teach you how you manage your customer relationships and as there are numerous CRM systems to choose from please be careful to select a CRM system that suits both the size of your business and the industry sector you are in without being unnecessarily complex.
Consider and document your specific requirements for the CRM system. A good place to start is with reports, think about which management reports you want and what information would you like to see on each one, this by default then defines which information you need to capture in the CRM system.
We have noted a couple of scenarios where one CRM implementation went well and another didn’t.
Example number 1
A small marketing business implemented a fairly complex CRM system without fully understanding how to use it for their needs, it was purchased because it was from a leading technology name and you could just subscribe to it online, this was the easy bit that was too easy.
It costs £200 per month and even 6 months after implementing it the data is in different states which includes duplicates and missing addresses and there is no one person that is an expert in how to use it. The business has tried to assign ownership of it but with staff leaving and new people coming in ownership has been lost resulting in their paying for a solution that doesn’t meet their needs, isn’t user friendly or very fit for purpose.
Example number 2
This is quite different to number 1 and has been a total success.
The company, a small delivery company involved a CRM specialist at the outset, they knew what they wanted but didn’t know how to go about it and decided to outsource it to someone who could implement a CRM solution that suited them.
With the support of a CRM specialist they defined their WHY, identified the people involved with customer interaction, implemented a new process and then chose the software that met their needs.
They have found that their relationships with their customers have improved beyond their expectations as they set out on this journey, resulting in recommendation and new business as well as repeat business from existing customers.
In summary, implementing CRM within your business doesn’t have to be too difficult.
But you need to understand WHY you are doing it before either implementing it yourself or outsourcing it to a specialist.
Amelia Bishop is from Weenie Business Solutions.