Following on from Michael Lough’s blog post: Improve customer relationships with CRM, he outlines below key pointers to help you off to a flying start in choosing the right CRM system.
Sourcing the right CRM software can have a transformative effect on a business, but conversely selecting the wrong CRM software can be expensive and disastrous. Here are a few pointers to help guide you when it comes to choosing the right system for your business needs.
Step 1: Map your processes
Always start with process and not with software. The right software should match your process and improve productivity. You shouldn’t be changing the way you do things in your business just to fit a new software product. All processes should be mapped out and written down in advance; from acquiring a customer through to project delivery and customer support.
If you need more information on how to go about creating a process map, please take a look at our instructional blog on the topic: How to create a simple process map
Step 2: Define your priorities
Create a prioritised list of the things you need to improve in the business and focus on these first. Is it marketing? Is it sales? Is it service? Or is it a combination of the three? Tackling the most important thing first delivers immediate impact, helps you demonstrate value to the rest of the business and gets buy-in from all those involved.
Step 3: Create a requirements checklist
The requirements will be based on your process maps and your prioritised list. Write out a list of functionality requirements for the software and group into ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice-to-haves’. If you need the software to adapt and extend its functionality as you move down your list of priorities, then make sure you include flexibility as a ‘must-have’ requirement.
Step 4: Research the market
You can now take a look at what is out there, and you will very soon discover there are a myriad of options. Ask people you trust for recommendations, carry out web-based research and build a long list of possible solutions.
A key decision to make early on is whether to choose an off-the-shelf solution or work with a supplier to create something more bespoke. This will largely depend on the ‘uniqueness’ of your processes and the existing software solutions that are already out there.
Step 5: Evaluate the options with demonstrations and trials
With a shortlist of two or three options, the next stage is to trial or receive a demonstration of the software. From this you want to evaluate and select the most suitable option based on your requirements. As well as software functionality there are also other important aspects that many businesses overlook but should consider:
- Total cost of ownership: What are all the costs? And how do those costs change as the business grows?
- Accessibility: Do you need to easily access the software and data from multiple locations, such as the office and home?
- Data security and access: Where is your data stored and how can you access it if you stop using the software?
- GDPR compliance: Make sure both you and your CRM provider fully understand the ICO’s requirements regarding data protection and that you CRM system and processes comply.
- After sales support: What is the provision for support? Is there a service level agreement?
- User training: What resources are available to training and upskilling your team? Is it just online resources or do you have access to real people?
- Delivery schedule: How long will it take to deliver? How will the software provider support the ‘onboarding’ process?
- Development roadmap: Will the supplier invest in the software to develop and improve it?
Engage with your team each step of the way
To give your business the best chance of successfully adopting the CRM software, we always recommend engaging with the staff who will be using it at a very early stage in the selection process. This will also help reduce onboarding and user training costs as they will already be familiar with the chosen software solution.
My final piece of advice is to start simple and not attempt to solve every issue from day one. Use your prioritised list to target the most important issues first and then move down the list as you overcome each issue. This way you will keep your staff engaged and onboard and it also gives you the opportunity to adapt and change the software as you start to use it in a real-life scenario.
If executed correctly CRM can transform the productivity and profitability of your business. It certainly has for us!
Michael is the managing director of Blue Wren. Blue Wren specialises in productivity and process improvement through the delivery of bespoke CRM and workflow software. Each system is customised to the exact requirements of each customer and delivered in a fraction of the time and for a fraction of the cost of a ground up development.
Blue Wren is a member of Boost & Co – a group of public and private sector organisations that can help Lancashire businesses grow.
If you’re a Lancashire entrepreneur looking to start a new business or at the early stages of growing a new business, Boost’s funded programme can help you get off to a flying start. Call 0800 488 0057 or complete our quick form and a member of the Boost team will be in touch to start your growth conversation.