March 25, 2020
Customer relationship management is an approach to manage a company's interaction with current and potential customers. However, there are so many CRM providers out there that once a decision has been made to explore if a CRM is a good fit, only then does the complex product selection process begin.
How can it help my business?
You will no doubt get drawn in by the glossy marketing materials, demos, webinars and case studies. They drive home the main benefits of a CRM and showcase key fetures:
- Maintain a centralised repository of all of your customers
- Manage all communication and interactions with customers
- Provides a multi channel experience (Phone, Web Chat, Email, Social Media)
- Real time Reporting and Analytics
- Greater customer and staff satisfaction
- Improved time to market
- Provides tools to support automation
- Regular updates and new features
- And much more...
But, before you can even begin to start thinking abour realising any of these you need to define your requirements and criteria for success. With these clearly articulated, your project sponsor signed up and everyone talking the same language you can start exploring your options.
Buy an Off the shelf CRM
This is buying pre-built software from a supplier then configuring and customising it to support your business needs. This is a key point - if you choose an off the shelf platform, you need to keep customisation to a minimum. The more you customise the more pain that generally causes further down the road in terms of updates, changing to another product, onboarding new team members etc.
Today, off the shelf platforms are generally cloud based, on premise alternatives are available, and you usually pay per user for different features - licensing models get complicated trust me.
When it comes to features, where do i start. All of the big players in this area provide feature rich customer experience platforms that can be configured to support virtually any business and its processes. They unify customer engagement across multiple channels and offer out of the box leading edge technologies such as chatbots and artificial intelligence to supplement their core products.
One of the biggest attractions in recent years is the low code / no code offerings that CRM platforms provide. No code / low code provides users with the ability to build complex solutions through point and click intefaces - this requires very little coding experience but requires training,
Build a custom CRM
CRM systems have matured so much over the past 10 years and are now feature rich digital platforms that flex to different market sectors, putting the customer experience at the heart. With that in mind, there are some rare occasions when you might want to built your own. If you feel your requirements can't be met by a CRM in the market place, the CRM's are just to expensive, or there are some other valid reasons where the company wants to build a custom CRM then you can create something from scratch.
It's a brave decision, if you find yourself starting on that journey start to think of the skills required, the project management involved, the total cost of ownership, the time required to build and deploy, the list goes on! But who is not to say you don't end up building something so good it could be resold and compete on that gartner quadrant.
What about the power?
I started writing this blog fresh off the back of consulting with a small finance company who were looking at using a CRM to support their growing customer base. During that engagement I often referred to the "power of the CRM" and how they should look to utilise the out of the box features where possible - lets not reinvent the wheel. This often lead to dicsussions on changing business process but only where that benefited the company, and was generally best practice in the industry.
The true power today comes from the flexibility of CRM platforms. Vendors have invested huge amounts of money in these systems - to truley unleash the power you have to maximise the features against your investment. You might have selected a CRM which meets all your requirements but what else does it offer? Are there other features you get from your procurement and can they improve the customer experience.
One of the most powerful elements of any platform, especially with the no-code/low code features offered, is that business people now find themseleves with great power and with that comes responsibility. Business users with minimal training can create complex line of business applications without the help of dedicated IT professionals - this initially seems like a really big benefit but can quickly become a real problem.
To make sure you realise the full power of a CRM, you need to ensure a robust governance structure is in place to ensure you have control in how your platform develops. Weave into that princples such as configuration over customisation, monitor usage and app creation, ensure users have the correct skills and create a development community around your platform to support and nurture ideas.
Would you like to learn more about how a CRM could work for your business? Do you need help gathering requirements or with product selection stage? Get in touch with the team and we will be happy to chat through ideas with you.