You’ve heard the common CRM benefits: better customer relationships, improved ability to upsell, greater visibility into important company metrics, increased efficiency in customer service, cost savings, customer retention, and so on.
When you consider the benefits, it’s easy to understand why the CRM market has grown significantly over the last decade. And at this point, most successful companies know that using CRM is a necessity.
Yet CRM adoption remains relatively low.
It’s surprisingly common for companies to invest a lot of time and money (and energy!) into implementing CRM, only to find their employees aren’t using the new technology.
To help you avoid the common pitfall of low adoption, we’ve put together a quick guide for companies that are on the cusp of CRM implementation.
Why is successful CRM implementation so important?
About 58 percent of enterprises have seen a significant boost in their customer loyalty and retention since they started using some type of customer analytics.
An increase in customer retention directly translates to an increase in your profit margin so you can see that your overall business success is directly tied to how well your CRM performs.
Perhaps you are thinking, “How does CRM actually improve customer loyalty and retention?”
It may sound too good to be true: purchase some new software, then all of a sudden, your customers are showing you more love and want to keep doing business with you.
If this is your thought process, it’s time to change your perspective. It’s not purchasing the software that leads to these benefits; it’s setting a solid foundation through proper software implementation. We’ll get back to that shortly.
There are many ways CRM improves customer loyalty and increases retention but three of the primary ways include learning, optimization, and organization.
Put simply, CRM software helps you learn more about your customers. You learn about who they are, what type of products or services they prefer, how often they need those products or services, and so on.
This makes it easy to anticipate your customers’ needs and fulfill them when the time is right.
The software then allows you to optimize your customer interactions. Instead of having meaningless interactions, you can use the information you've learned to guide your interactions toward the creation of meaningful relationships. You can speak to customers in their language, through their preferred channels.
You can add real value to your customers’ lives by understanding how to best serve them. This way, you can keep them interested in whatever idea—whatever product or service—you are selling.
Organization is the final important area where CRM is particularly useful in improving customer loyalty and retention.
Since the software allows you to automate the redundant parts of your business, you can focus on areas that require more attention and focus. This improves the overall productivity of individual teams, as well as the productivity of your business as a whole.
5 Tips for CRM Success
Back to CRM implementation.
Your business will never experience the benefits we’ve discussed without a strategy for CRM implementation. Without planning for success, you’ll be left wondering why you invested in the software in the first place.
Here are five ways to achieve a successful CRM implementation.
1. Get management buy-in
If management doesn't have faith in your CRM system, will your employees? Of course not.
There has to be continued support from the top down for you to realize a return on your CRM investment. You don’t want a situation where some people (i.e. management) are all in, while others (your employees) are unenthusiastic. Not only will this lead to a reduction in overall efficiency, but you risk hurting morale because resentment will build among your teams. Your employees will feel they’re being forced to use something in which they don’t see the benefit.
This is the truly important part of getting your leaders to buy into your decision to implement CRM. If the management is sold on your CRM idea, they’ll be able to clearly explain to your employees how it will benefit them, how it will actually make their lives easier, and why it’s a win-win for your employee-customer relationships.
Additionally, management buy-in sends the message that your company’s leaders are fully committed to the system, rather than framing the decision as something ownership decided to do without input from the rest of the team.
2. Make sure everyone’s on the same page
If your managers fully support your CRM decision, you’ve done a great job clearly explaining how the new system will both benefit your entire organization and their individual teams.
The importance of understanding how the new system will benefit each team individually cannot be overstated because of the simple fact that each department in your organization—from finance to sales, or production—has different goals and requirements to fulfill.
In terms of working towards a successful CRM implementation, the next thing you need to do is open up communication between each department in your organization. Since they now understand how CRM will impact their daily workflow, they’ll also be able to discuss how the new system will affect the tasks they typically work on together.
For example, marketing and sales can discuss which marketing automation flow works best for specific types of prospects. Or your production team can work with finance to know which steps in order processing will trigger important financial events for the accounting department.
By opening up and maintaining communication between departments in regards to how the CRM will impact their overlapping tasks and responsibilities, you won’t hinder your ability to reach your overall goals for implementing the system.
3. Put your CRM strategy ahead of the technology
Organizing your CRM strategy around the things that move your business forward is the next important step in planning for a successful implementation.
It’s easy to get caught up in the whole “technology buzz” and think new tech is the answer to everything. This is a huge mistake, as technology is not the primary driver of a successful CRM implementation, rather, organizing and identifying your business processes are. This is why it’s so important to identify the ways in which your new system will impact—and improve—your business drivers.
Many people think implementing CRM is the be-all-end-all for business success, but the software is just a tool in and of itself. Your strategy for putting your new CRM to use will ultimately determine whether or not you achieve the desired benefits.
4. Clean your data
Before implementing your new system, the next thing you need to do is ensure that your organization’s data is complete, up-to-date, and accurate before migrating it into your CRM.
Chances are your current database includes information that doesn’t belong in your new system. For example, it’s possible that there are customers with multiple entries or you’re still holding onto old contact information for a company that you partnered with in the past.
This step is relatively simple, yet it may be time-consuming depending on how long you’ve been in business. That’s why it’s crucial to clean your data before you put the new system in place; you don’t want to unnecessarily delay implementation.
5. When it comes to training, don’t procrastinate
Training is perhaps the easiest thing to delay until the end of CRM implementation. But you shouldn’t take a “figure it out as you go” approach. Remember, we’re talking about ways to prepare for a successful implementation, so the implication here is that training should be done before the new system is in place.
Unfortunately, a lot of businesses don't plan adequately for training, so they give end-users a very short time to get used to the new system. The good news is that most CRM vendors provide tons of helpful resources for getting your employees up to speed.
To make sure your CRM implementation is a success, ensure that you give everyone who’s going to interact with the system enough time to learn its ins and outs, before going live. This will lead to happier employees and more efficient use of your new system.
That’s it—use these five quick tips as a checklist when planning to go live with CRM, and you’ll not only set up your business for a successful implementation but you’ll also increase your likelihood of experiencing all the benefits CRM has to offer.