Map Your Customer Relationship Business Process
Customer relations are established by a combination of policy, process and execution. CRM software falls under the category of execution. It is therefore only a third or so of the total equation, and only effectively implemented after the other two precursors are in place.
CRM solutions are tools. It is important to remember that even the best tool is useless if misused. For example, you can own the best-made claw hammer in the world but it won't help you saw anything. Blaming the tool for not performing is counter-productive if you are not using it properly.
By ironing out your customer policies and procedures now, you'll be able to better identify what CRM tools you need to execute the specific tasks you need done.
This is also a good time to revise your customer relationship policies and processes if they are out of date or need improvement to accomplish business objectives. Antiquated processes, or trying to automate inconsistent processes, are commonly cited reasons for CRM failures.
Define Your Business Strategy
Your business strategy should be highly defined and include measurable milestones over extended periods of time. A panicked decision to deploy CRM software in a hurry in order to fix broken processes or make quick sales is a losing strategy. So is a long-term plan to deploy CRM software now in order to reach an inflated and arbitrary milestone down the road.
The strategy you need in place is one that moves your business plan forward, includes both immediate and long-term wins, and is supported by measurable execution.
Once you have such a well-defined business strategy before you, identifying needed CRM software features and functionalities and the costs you are willing to pay for them become clearly delineated.
Know Your Integration Needs
It's a helpful exercise to create a list of all of the business software you are already using to manage your business processes. Write beside each business software solution:
- what you actually use the software for (because this may differ from the software's total capabilities);
- whether it is a current version and recently updated;
- whether the software is in extended support and being phased out;
- whether you are satisfied with the current software capabilities and user interface;
- whether it enables or impedes your newly defined strategic initiatives;
- the gaps and overlaps your mix of software presents; and,
- which of these software solutions you want to integrate with CRM.
A clean and precise inventory of your software will help you further define processes you can streamline and the CRM tools that will work best in your individual company ecosystem.
Next - Your CRM Requirements Checklist >>