Welcome back to the MyCRM Blog
Today we are going to try and answer the popular question that many business owners have asked me and that is “Does a CRM system really add value to my business?”
There have been a more times than I can remember, where I’ve been asked what I do for a living. When giving the answer “I help business deliver CRM” I usually get a blank expression and puzzled look and most say “Oh, what’s that?” or something similar.
I have learnt over the years not to then use the word ‘software’ at this point, as a percentage of people just shut down or worse just walk away.
Being honest it never ceases to amaze me and in a good, way that after years of advertising by many providers many company owners or directors still have little recognition of the benefits a CRM system can bring to their business.
As some of you may know I have been delivering CRM based systems, solutions and applications for the past 20 years and my name is Alistair Dickinson. I’m currently the Sales and Marketing Director at MyCRM and have over my career seen and heard many excuses and many explanations of what CRM is and is not. I have also seen CRM projects fail and rescued many from the brink of collapse, so feel I can share some of the good and the bad.
Firstly let’s start off at the beginning, and debunk a few myths about CRM. A CRM system is not just a piece of technology, it is not just a software package that is installed in your business and it is most definitely not something you can just buy.
You might well be thinking at this point that I have gone mad and that you can just buy it or subscribe to it online.
The truth of the matter is you can buy the tools that enable you to deliver a business or corporate CRM package, but the software or technology is just one of the tools you will need as part of your implementation process in defining a CRM methodology within your organisation. A good CRM system and process is not always just good technology and software, but more about your customer strategy for the business.
Thinking about effective processes!
The passion that you have for your business success will be shown in the way you approach customer care and handling of customer enquiries. It will be shown in the way you manage and forecast your sales, and it will be shown in the way you choose to consistently market and message your brand.
These three key components Sales, Marketing and Support along with Customer and Lean data management, make up the framework for a well-defined CRM system.
Any system implemented, should be implemented with the ambition to place the customer at the centre of your business with all data shared across your entire organisation. This means that your team members have everything they need related to an account once a customer enquiry is made.
The end goal should always be, that any one individual regardless of focus should be able to look at a customer record and account and see the status either it being support, marketing, general email or sales and get what is deemed a 360 degree view of a customer activity.
The processes around a CRM across your organisation are those that help you work more effectively and smarter. You will have or should have process that define a sale, a process that defines a support ticket or even a process to subscribe or unsubscribe from marketing. The questions you need to ask yourself as a business owner when defining processes are “What happens in my business when a customer does X?” The X is a given activity like registering for a trial, or logging a ticket for help with support.
There are many process that can be defined in your business and implementing those that streamline the work activity and engagement with a customer are the priority for good CRM. Most business owners like to do more with less, i.e. reduce the time it takes to do one thing and then systemise and repeat.
Large global franchises are very good at the steps that make a process defined and systemised. When you go to any of the outlets of a given franchise be it food, retails or coffee shops the experience is the same.
Having a process that enables the customer experience to be the same every time enables that customer to define brand loyalty, and if the customer experience is enjoyed on more than 6 occasions then it is more likely a loyal customer bond will be created.
Thinking about your data and what it is used for!
I would imagine by now that you have seen some advert or headline news article relating to GDPR and currently there is a lot of activity on the subject. It is worth noting that while this is headline news it is worth having a think about who should have access to data and how and which data is presented. You also need to think about security of your data and how it is accessed, you may want to think about electronic document signature processes for your customers and partners. Give consideration to how customer and partner portals are accessed and what level of technology is needed in your business to make it successful.
After years of experience in the CRM sector and after helping to deliver a range of different projects for different types of business I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t really think there is a default or standard CRM deployment.
There are obviously many different approaches and many commonalities when delivering the implementation of a system, and understanding the required data need is a key component.
Thinking about system Integration!
As part of your organisations customer strategy, there will be probably a need for integration with external or internal systems or website CMS (Content Management). These types of integration need to be planned, the interfaces to each system need to be revealed and the data mappings made.
There is no point just marking of an integration as an A to B scenario, you will need to think about what data is to be transferred, which direction data is synced and why you need the integration to be done, i.e. what is the business value add.
I have spent a large part of my career designing and implementing integration points and the first question I always ask is WHY? The Why questions helps understand the benefit of integrating and if the cost can never be recovered by the identified efficiency then don’t do it. If an integration is going to cost $10,000+ to do but the pay back is only a few hours of manual work per week, then work out the cost of the manual work and what the cost benefit really is.
A CRM and Customer strategy is very much about placing the customer at the heart of your business but do not over use technology for the sake of it. Your business needs to expand grow within the budget assigned so the cost of integration and the cost of expanding systems must be outweighed by the short term possible return i.e. the reward must be greater in the short term.
Thinking about user adoption and ease of use!
I hate to admit it but I have come to the end of complex system builds and integration projects when delivering CRM systems and platforms, and the system has had a less than lukewarm reception from the user base.
The problem on some projects is the users have been kept out of the design loop and they are not considered by a project team. One of the key things to always do is ask the user base how they work and what would make it better.
If you can include your users and team in the process then they will help each other when it comes to roll out and system adoption.
Your users are at the so called coal face the know what they have to do to get the job done, so it’s worth spending some time as the pay back could increase productivity which will increase profit.
So you are thinking about effective CRM!
I’d hope that I might have been able to raise a few points of consideration when making the step to either configure your CRM package, or when you are about consider a new one.
CRM and system implementation in your business has to have a value add driver, there must be a potential Return on Investment.
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