CRM Solutions Consulting
CRMs are expensive to run and even more expensive to implement. They require the support and dedication of the entire organization in order to be accepted and successfully implemented. During my time at the German Chamber of Commerce in Bogota (AHK Colombia), I helped select a CRM solution and devise an implementation plan.
From Idea to Reality
Throughout my time at the AHK I worked on numerous projects, not all of which were directly related to each other. One key element, however, happened to tie everything together: the company’s processes and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system implementation. The current CRM solution, was found to be lacking in features and in acceptance throughout the organization. It became apparent that there was a lot of confusion with regards to how and when to use the CRM and many staff members were found to circumvent or work outside of the CRM. My supervisor, instructed by upper management, tasked me with identifying issues with the current CRM solution and to identify requirements and potential candidates for a new CRM implementation.
Here is what I learned throughout my journey.
Defining the task
Implementing a new CRM system is a costly endeavor that requires an additional time investment and support across the entire organization to ensure a successful implementation. Correctly identifying the needs of an organization and ensuring a high degree of support and willingness to learn are key to a successful CRM implementation. The two primary success factors can be divided into three key categories: technical, process, and human success factors.
What is a CRM?
As described by Gallaugher (2016), Customer Relationship Management Systems are “systems used to support customer-related sales and marketing activities.” They are systems that are crucial to most modern organizations as they help foster long term relationships with clients. They can help increase the satisfaction and lifetime customer value of a client, by keeping a record of the clients’ preferences, needs, and past interactions.
Before conducting staff interviews, it was already apparent that the existing CRM solution was a pain point for the organization. Several key members of management had made it clear that it was not working out and was due to be replaced after the new year . Staff members often complained about the system, it’s reliability, lack of features and its lack of user friendliness.
Requirements for a new CRM
It was clear that the current implementation has suffered from a lack of technical features, slow performance, and perhaps most importantly, a lack of acceptance and internal organization standards. While implementing a new CRM could add much needed features to a new implementation, it is important that it is accompanied by staff training and standards. The organization as a whole must be committed to ensuring that a new CRM implementation is a success. Willingness to learn and resources dedicated to integrating its use will be key.
It is important to critically evaluate multiple CRM solutions to ensure that they meet the budget, technical and feature requirements of the organization. It may be tempting to go for an expensive solution that claims to offer everything, however for many small and medium sized organizations this is usually far more than is necessary. As such it is important to outline the key needs of the organization and to have a solid grasp on all the processes inside the organization.
The success of a CRM implementation comes down to having a good understanding of three factors:
1. The people
What many organizations overlook when choosing a new CRM solution are the end users (usually staff members) who will be tasked with interacting with the CRM for years to come. People are a critical success factor for any CRM implementation.
Involving all the members of the organization and securing their support is crucial throughout this process. Support for the new implementation should take a top to bottom approach, by involving everyone from top management down to staff members in each department.
Training should be viewed as an essential step to secure staff commitment and to prepare the organization for the new implementation. Staff members should be introduced to the new CRM platform early on. This can be done by using demo versions of the CRM and having introduction training sessions for users to learn on sample data, before the actual implementation. The benefits of this go beyond just learning how to use the new platform. By allowing staff members to test the platform early on, anxiety and uncertainty are reduced. After the new CRM is implemented, further training will ensure staff members are comfortable using the system for their specialized use case.
2. The processes
During the implementation stages of the new CRM, all features should be implemented with processes in mind. Many CRMs have the option to outline various processes in the program, which allows for tracking the progress of clients within a process. Such outlines should be created for all key processes involving customers. Furthermore, key performance metrics for each process should be established to enable goals to be set and monitored. This can be directly tied in with the reporting module of a CRM, to enable the organization to track its sales targets and to measure key metrics. Goals for these key metrics should be set and monitored regularly to enhance performance. Email and report templates should be created for their respective processes and stored in the mailing and reporting modules. This will help better integrate the use of the CRM into the processes and prevent users from using outside tools.
3. The technical requirements of your organization
The existing organizational database should be cleaned, duplicated removed and old entries updated before migration starts. The new CRM could be set up in parallel with the existing solution to avoid any downtime.
Existing software should be analyzed for compatibility with the CRM to determine which applications and services can be integrated. This will help provide a more seamless experience for staff members, reducing the need to leave the CRM to perform other tasks. Integrating email and other communication tools such as Skype can make tracking customer interactions easier.
Choosing a new CRM that meets your needs is important. Nevertheless, proper staff training and the right implementation process is just as important, if not more important, to the success of a new CRM implementation.
The success of a CRM can be said to come down to three factors: the people using it, the processes inside an organization and the technical aspects of the implementation. The current implementation, at the AHK, was not congruent with the needs and processes of the organization. The newly selected CRM solution (not mentioned for security reasons) along with an implementation plan that resulted from this project are currently being used to bring the new solution to life this year.
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