6 Questions Choose Your Perfect CRM System

CRM Questions

Choosing the right customer relationship management system can prove a challenge when there are so many considerations. Before comparing different systems, it is worth taking some time to define your requirement.

You will already have a broad objective of what the new technology must achieve but to help weigh up potential solutions here are six important factors to consider:

1. What processes do you want to improve?

A critical reason to seek a new solution will be to improve processing efficiency. Specific aims often include reducing the reliance on time-consuming, repetitive manual steps when completing routine tasks, and eliminating duplication of effort because systems and processes aren't connected.

Smarter examples may include sending automated emails when important events occur, for example when a service issue is logged or when a new order is received. Also, enforcing your business rules when processes are carried out to ensure high data quality and consistently handle repeatable workflows.

Lead qualification, email campaign management, handling of web leads, service and support processes, and complaint handling are frequent priorities for improvement.

Defining these essential requirements will help shortlist potential products to ensure these will provide the functions and flexibility needed to handle your processes. For example, these requirements may include branching logic, specific controls to simplify data input or complex rules to trigger automated workflows.

2. What relationships and workflows do you need to manage?

Essentially, all CRM systems are designed to help businesses manage their relationships with people and companies, track sales and organise daily tasks. But what other workflows do you need to manage?

Depending on the nature of your business this could include managing a diversity of entities such as: Events, Projects, Training Courses, Jobs, Products, Applications, Medical Records or Property.

If your business needs to manage a mix of workflows and relationship types this may rule out some packages at the smaller end of the market which are geared towards managing only people rather than broader business entities.

3. How will you phase your implementation?

There are many benefits in starting small before adding more functionality and sharing the new system with more teams.

Not least because a phased approach means that the new technology can be more quickly implemented. This will limit disruption, minimise upfront costs and speed up the process to achieve quick wins.

In many cases, the technical and training work required to help you get up and running can often be delivered as a fixed package to remove uncertainty and the prospect of scope creep.

By focusing on priority requirements this approach will initially deliver a minimum viable for one or two teams. With early successes identified there will be solid basis and momentum to extend the technology by rolling out more users and teams, configuring more features and handling additional processes across the business.

4. Are your requirements industry-specific?

Your industry may be highly specialised in terms of its processes and procedures that need to be managed. Some technology solutions are specific to vertical markets, or have been developed to meet these requirements. This may include charities, educational organisations, housing associations and healthcare firms.

The need for a highly verticalised solution will likely rule out many entry level CRM packages which lack the flexibility to adapt to fit these specific processes and industry terminology.

However, a pre-built industry solution might provide more functionality than your organisation requires now, or will realistically need in the future, potentially resulting in an imbalance between cost and value. In these instances, if a low-cost 'starter' plan isn't available, a more effective solution may be to choose a proven product which can be easily adapted to fit your requirements. With the support of a partner that has a clear track record in your market this may prove a better long term option to the core functionality that is needed and control ongoing costs.

5. What data should be connected?

Beyond Microsoft Office apps and services, you will also likely want to unify, or at least, connect your data. 

A major challenge that many organisations face is connecting up the various bits of data that are held in different places. For example, data silos present a formidable challenge to improving service delivery, running personalised marketing campaigns and reducing sales administration. 

To create a unified view of each customer a new solution may need to integrate with your:

  • Your website to import new enquiries and leads
  • ERP or accounting software to share customer financial data, or to automate order processing for connected quote to cash capabilities
  • A billing platform
  • Back-offer databases
  • An ecommerce platform to import transactional data
  • Other applications including e-marketing and Sharepoint

Once connected, new opportunities will arise to share selected data with clients, partners and other external parties. Connected web portals are available with most CRM solutions delivering self-service capabilities. These help to reduce service traffic as users can find answers online, enhance communication and create more transparency as users have greater control over their data.

6. What metrics do you need to track?

Not knowing important numbers and performance metrics will always be a big driver for implementing new solution. As we've featured here, for timely, meaningful reporting to be available, processes and data must be connected.

In weighing up potential technology, consider what reports your team will need, how these will be consumed, what type insights they want to discover, and what actions these analytics should drive.

This should provide a good steer for the type of reports and dashboards that need to be available within a new CRM product, or easily accessible using a natively connected reporting solution. 

Here at Preact we will be delighted to answer your questions and offer advice to help you choose and implement the best technology solutions to address the current business challenges you face. Contact us to find out more and discuss your requirements.

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