We all know that if you tend to a garden by preparing the soil, are diligent in watering, pull out weeds, and give the plants the necessary nutrients, they will flourish. This is also true in the land of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools. Without properly preparing the data, defining processes, and training the users how to update the system, the CRM may reach its demise rather quickly.
Preparing the Soil
The proper documentation of current processes, in addition to receiving input from a variety of users, is imperative to ensure that you capture all the correct steps is imperative to setting a good CRM foundation. This includes items that can be improved in the process. By capturing data that is crucial to your company’s client portfolio, you to optimize the data that is entered. Be selective about the details you’re capturing and don’t capture data just to capture it. Question if the details you are currently keeping track of still make sense to retain.
Fields in a CRM system act as filters to create reports and dashboards allowing for a deeper level of analysis and better business decisions. It is not a best practice to use text fields to capture any KPI’s (Key Performance Indicator), as they restrict roll up summaries and the ability to quickly filter items for further analysis. It’s important to define the field name, what type of field it should be (currency, single vs. multi picklist or a lookup relationship) and add help text so that users know exactly what they are expected to enter. Capture definitions for each field and create a user guide while going through this process so your CRM will flourish with information.
A CRM is not a one-and-done tool. It’s an ecosystem that needs to be well maintained and attended to. If it is within your budget, it is ideal to have an appointed CRM administrator who will communicate, train, prioritize, and troubleshoot system related issues. You can also hire a consultant, such as the work that Sales Empowerment Group provides to act as an Interim CRM administrator who will upkeep all the moving parts of the system. Depending on the CRM system you choose, there will be updates and changes to the interface as well as growth and changes to your business that need to be adapted in the CRM.
Just as important as which fields you add, updating the fields is fundamental. A collaborative team that understands and appreciates the importance of keeping current data will put you light years ahead. This comes with well-defined communication of expectations, and a buy in at all levels of the organization – supporting the implementation and work within the system. Any conversation that happens outside of the system, devalues it. Build a strong cadence of data validity. Furthermore, make sure you provide updates, listen to feedback, and make all users comfortable using the system. When first implementing, it’s a best practice to have a set bi-weekly meeting following the deployment so users can ask questions, walk through live scenarios, and introduce best practices and new functionality.
Pulling out Weeds
As we all know, garbage in – garbage out. Data integrity can be a huge pitfall within a system. Stale data, not entering data in a timely manner, and not instilling accountability can leave a bad taste in users’ mouths.
Stale data can leave users loathe to spend time updating records. There are a plethora of tools available that can be integrated with CRM systems to update details in batches, or with the click of a button, to reduce additional data entry. Keeping up to date records so that any user can log in and trust that the data is accurate goes hand in hand with user adoption and the overall success of a system.
Calendar blocking is a great technique to hold time to ensure that data is entered in a timely manner. Have users block their calendars at the end of the day or after an event occurred to ensure they are updating the details in a timely fashion. Most CRM systems have mobile applications that allows users to enter details on the go and not spend a wealth of their time doing data entry. It’s always best to block time out to make sure the notes and items are entered when they are crisp in your head.
Making users accountable for their input is one thing that can make a wealth of a difference. Identifying super users, giving incentives to update data, and using reports on weekly or bi-weekly calls to discuss the data entered are some best practices. This can be a cultural shift, but a lot of time, money and resources are going into this system, so making users accountable for their work is crucial.
As mentioned before, a CRM is an ecosystem and needs to be continually nurtured. Companies must establish change processes. Ensuring that the core implementation team can prioritize requests, process improvements, and roll out updates to users for system optimization is key. This is accomplished by continuing training, selecting integrations that can improve process flows, while being collaborative on ways to improve the system will yield the most growth. Maintenance is an on-going process and doesn’t stop once the system is deployed. Limiting knee jerk additions to the system and ensuring they help rather than hinder is always a best practice.
CRMs can be daunting but by breaking them down into small manageable pieces and taking the time to prepare the soil, water, pull out weeds, and nurture the ecosystem, you can make all the difference on how much you yield from your efforts. Don’t be hasty in implementation. Setting a strong and solid foundation instead of backing yourself into a corner with over optimization is truly important. Remember, “the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit.” – Fabienne Fredrickson