5 Milestones That Demonstrate CRM Success

CRM Advice

The criteria for CRM success varies between businesses but there are consistent milestones and events that point the way towards goals being achieved.

In this post we've highlighted five key achievements that when combined represent a scenario where CRM technology is thriving enabling project objectives to be quickly met.

Do business anywhere

CRM systems are designed to be an enabler that empowers individuals to be productive wherever they work.

Remote and mobile workers should have access to the same data and CRM functions they need to do their job as if they work in the office and be able to leverage connected apps including Office 365. 

Through mobile apps and offline working, your CRM system should be implemented so that all users have access to the relationship data and business processes that matter to them in line user security permissions.

This can include referencing data directly from CRM during a client meeting, catching up on tasks between meetings, sending a revised a sales proposal on a train, or responding to a service case when working from home.

Read how BCR Associates has increased the productivity of its field based workers by implementing Microsoft Dynamics 365.

Smarter business processes

Removing duplication of effort is an obvious requirement for a new CRM system but developing smarter processes involves more than just replacing manual tasks with automated workflows.

In mapping an organisation's business processes to a new CRM system there will inevitably be some trade off.

In the first instance, CRM must reflect your workflows. If you track customer service cases, projects, events, training courses, applications and other specific processes the system must adapt to handle these dedicated processes and reflect your methodology.

However, a new CRM system will have inbuilt functions and capabilities that will improve the efficiency of these processes. Implementing a new package, or reviewing an existing solution, is an excellent opportunity to identify how this technology can be harnessed to improve process efficiency.

This is especially powerful when focused on everyday repeatable workflows such as:

Connecting with Accounting / ERP systems to process sales order information enabling invoices to be raised which avoids any need to re-key this data.

Developing guided processes that prompt users to ask questions, collect data and qualify prospects in line with agreed business rules and best practice. By understanding what has happened, and what needs to be done next on each task, the CRM application guides users towards positive outcomes. 

Integrating email marketing that updates CRM with recipient actions. On a simple level this will track open and click data, and apply opt-out requests. More advanced uses include using CRM data to drive dynamic content that increases recipient engagement, or using CRM events such as field changes to trigger automated campaigns that send a sequence of emails contextual to the event or action. 

When it comes to improving business processes through CRM, the direct benefits include reducing resource consumption, improving data quality and enforcing greater consistency in how workflows are managed. Process automation is just one aspect of this.

Read how Source Telecom has developed a smarter processes using Microsoft Dynamics 365 by connecting its workflows from sales lead to order. 

Transform service delivery

Developing smarter processes and empowering everyone to be responsible for customer service wherever they work are two important pillars for improving service delivery. 

One of the prime objectives for any CRM initiative should be to create a centralised relationship view delivering one truth about each customer which is accessible across multiple platforms.

As a result, financial data, essential contact information and a communications history including email marketing interactions is accessible in one place.

By relying on a single customer view, time and resources can be better applied to serve customers and use what is known about each relationship to give a personalised service.

This avoids customers being asked to repeat themselves as previously shared information is easily accessible. A more strategic benefit is to use CRM data to anticipate requirements and promote products or services in an account review or a marketing campaign.

An important step towards transforming service delivery is to put better tools in the hands of customer facing staff for managing support issues, resolving service requests and responding to complaints.

By combining guided case management processes with complete relationship detail, service agents have a solid platform to reach successful outcomes.

CRM projects must also recognize that customers demand the flexibility to choose which channels they interact across. 

A popular solution is to deploy self-service web portals that are integrated with CRM. These enable clients to raise service requests on-demand, search knowledge articles and refer to other resources. Many customers prefer to avoid call centers and through web portals they can transact with an organisation on their own terms to find answers which deflect service calls and increases satisfaction levels.
 
Another example is to connect social media channels. For example, use a monitoring tool like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing Insights that highlights actionable social posts where information requests, service issues and complaints are identified. These can be routed to CRM and resolved using the same interface compared to similar issues reported by phone, email or online. 

Finally, various survey tools can be built into these processes to capture customer feedback and opinions that will be used to drive further improvements.

Read how renewable energy provider, BeBa Energy has used Dynamics 365 to improve its service processes

Discover actionable insights from CRM data

Consolidating more data about your customers and processes in one place is beneficial but the greater value will be in how this data is used.

Having more data is not necessarily the objective but this is an important step towards uncovering new insights about the business and recent performance.

When business data is fragmented even basic reporting tends to be manual and time consuming. As well as being resource intensive, manual reports are liable to errors and inconsistencies. Due to these obstacles, reports may be lacking depth preventing anyone from gaining significant value.

Delays, inaccuracies and limited detail are a toxic combination for informed and nimble decision making.

Unifying customer and process data in a single system is one important step. Reports and dashboards are then needed to track key performance indicators and focus on the metrics that matter most to you.

Rather than sifting through lengthy report tables, by using an integrated graphical reporting tool, for example, Power BI, individuals and teams can instantly visualize their data through graphic dashboards and charts. These enable trends to be identified and performance to be clearly understood.

Further actionable insights are increasingly being delivered through embedded AI-powered capabilities. These include action cards to alert sales managers about the health of individual opportunities and analysis of bulk data.

The result is new insights which never previously seemed possible which is then used as the basis for informed and proactive business decisions.

Read how Fourfront Group gained new reporting insights and transformed their group wide reporting with Dynamics 365.

Develop a culture of user engagement

Without the support of its users, CRM projects will struggle to fulfil their potential.

In successful projects, it is always evident that CRM technology is ingrained within an organisation's culture and users have a voice in its future direction.

At the outset, CRM project leaders and sponsors must share the reason for CRM and their vision.

Why is the organisation investing time and finance in this, and crucially how will CRM benefit individuals?

These initial planning steps are crucial to gather feedback, shape strategy and get people on board to build goodwill. CRM can't be the work of an individual or even a single department

Well defined CRM visions and plans will still be challenged. Even when the CRM benefits for individuals are well communicated, barriers will still be presented. 

Strong leadership is needed to respond to concerns and resistance to change to make sure that the project stays on track.

CRM training is crucial to build user confidence but this isn't a one-off event.

As users and teams become more familiar with the technology they will identify CRM improvements that can be made and will want to explore more advanced features.

Frustration will soon set in if users perceive a lack of responsiveness to their requests for CRM changes and further training.

Well organised project leaders and administrators will have resources to respond to these user requests. In many cases they will work with an external CRM partner through a managed agreement. This enables delegated change requests to be swiftly actioned and service hours to allocated for training and mentoring users, or apply further customisations.

Often, CRM leaders will arrange review sessions that involve representatives from each department to discuss progress, evaluate proposed changes and agree next steps. This inclusive and transparent approach is another best practice that will drive user adoption and engagement.

Finally, senior managers have the most to gain from CRM through better reporting, process efficiencies and increased customer retention. To preserve user engagement and continued goodwill they must be seen to use it and advocate CRM.

Rapid user adoption in isolation does not guarantee CRM success. As we've highlighted, users will expect the technology to allow them to do business anywhere on their terms and enable them to develop better connected business processes that remove duplicated effort. This will include connecting all customer data to a single hub that empowers everyone to deliver service that wows customers and provides actionable new insights.

When all of these 5 acts coincide the conditions to achieve CRM goals are greatly increased.

Preact are a CRM implementation and support partner that leads with Microsoft Dynamics 365. To learn about our services for helping organisations implement and support their CRM system please get in touch.


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