“How did we ever function before without this system?”
This question is one people hear themselves ask once they have a customer relationship management system (CRM) in place. Serving as a repository for customer information, a true CRM has multiple layers that allow a business to gather, record and extract customer data to help make operations run more effectively. The CRM is the starting point to help attract customers, execute marketing campaigns and generate sales.
Before getting started on implementing a CRM system for your organization, be sure that the software fits your needs. The strength in this type of software is that it works to develop customers – both in number and their purchasing power – and also performs double-duty as a resource-allocation tool for your company.
Setting up a CRM database can present a few challenges but there are ways to work through them. Here are a few starter guidelines to help your company get started creating a CRM database.
If you’re thinking of CRM, it’s because you want marketing efficiency to improve at your company. The ideas generated at your company might be great, but not enough gets done and all the great, fruitful ideas die on the vine. A CRM fixes this and it’s why it is one of the best investments for your company.
Done right, a CRM becomes the engine that drives sales growth.
Automation of repetitive but required tasks makes wasted time disappear. Time spent tracking and finding leads is now spent on more creative endeavors. A quality CRM generates score leads based on behaviors, demographics, and interactions, and helps determine qualified leads in a more systematic, but realistic way.
A CRM can be shaped to what a company needs from it. Certain features can be developed more than others, and there are often extras that would focus on, say, e-commerce. Deciding which features your business needs is one of the most important steps in order to successfully launch a fully compatible CRM system. It is important to identify your company goals and how you plan to reach them. If you are unsure of what you should have or create in a CRM database, the list below provides some inspiration.
Simplicity and ease of integration:
Your CRM should be easy to use, making education and training among staff a breeze. If it is too difficult, they become discouraged. If only a few people use a CRM it’s not nearly as effective as it’s designed to be.
Access - Remote and mobile access:
CRM software should be accessible, regardless of location. Data constantly changes and everyone needs the latest information and a tool that syncs it well. Everyone, also needs the ability to update information for others. Today’s employees use software from home, off-site locations like trade shows and, of course, on- the-go mobile devices.
Stronger multichannel support:
CRM software extends your level of customer service for customers, so you also need elevated support that will reduce any down time to the bare minimum. In addition to a service number, you as a customer should also expect online chat, email ticket support and very quick turnaround times whatever the channel.
Integrated analytics and lead generation/follow-up tracking:
While having access to customer information is necessary, what your organization decides to do with it is even more critical. The information you collect using a CRM database allows your organization to tackle the needs of your customers, with more time to do it right.
Analytics tools help curate important statistical information, such as sales per customer or rep, website activity and payment history, to help you determine future actions. Do you want to offer a special promotion to a long-time customer or have you noticed a customer who browses the site consistently without making a purchase? Having that information helps convert leads quickly and confidently, ensuring you know your customers better.
Tracking lead generation increases the productivity of your sales team, and helps them attract live leads. Follow-up tracking allows you to set alerts for a particular customer or group of customers and take advantage of opportunities that previously would have been missed.
Initiating, staging, and executing all kinds of campaigns – marketing or internal processes – is a huge feature you don’t want to miss out on. Campaigns are moving targets that include a series of actions and steps taken to meet a specific goal. Being able to manage the workflow from an initial campaign concept through building, testing, deployment and measurement is key.
This feature is one of the most sought-after features of any CRM database. After all, you want to maintain and properly manage your current lists, leads, and organizational information. However, it is important to note that a CRM can do much more than merely store lists. A CRM instead, segments all contacts and lists to customized and pre-set groups. This segmentation is the foundation for building campaigns, real-time response and updates and contacts management.
Integration with other systems
When moving forward with a CRM, the goal is to have a seamless transition from what you do now.
This includes properly integrating the database with currently used systems and platforms. If you’ve been using one system for contacts, Outlook for mail and calendar appointments and Google Analytics for web traffic data, a quality CRM solution merges all of these without skipping a beat or negatively impacting your business. Working to maintain big data is essential to company growth and an improved database shows holes in current data. Not addressing these data gaps defeats the purpose of using a CRM.
Social media channels should also be considered when thinking about integration. The tasks you want to automate with a CRM database include various forms of communication beyond email. Social media is a growing part of the conversation between customers and small businesses.
Overall product usage
At the start of CRM implementation, go through a demo or trial period to assess what works and doesn’t work for your organization. You may find that you added too many features or you may find that CRM software is too lean without more customization.
Throughout this period or even before, come up with a list of evaluation criteria to help assess if the CRM met your needs. Criteria should include ease of use, integration options, potential scalability, as well as what’s written above. Once you evaluate your product decide when and how to continually evaluate needed improvements to get the most out of your CRM investment.
Use of a CRM, as it relates to your overall marketing automation efforts, will allow you to stay organized as you grow your business. Following the above steps to develop your CRM database will maintain and advance customer relationships. Setting up a database means building a foundation for growth.