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Top tips for CRM success in 2018 - part two

28th Feb 2018
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Last month I wrote about the ways companies can get the most from their CRM software (Top tips for CRM success in 2018 - part one), focusing on the human factors that play a role in defining your overall return-on-investment.

In the second part of my top CRM tips, I’m focusing on three important technical matters. This is because no matter how well you pave the way for your implementation from an organisational point of view, your success will be limited by technological barriers if the solution isn’t set up in the most suitable way. 

To customise or not to customise?

You may have heard CRM providers waxing lyrical about the flexibility of their solution and the ease with which you can customise its features to your precise needs. While this can be highly beneficial, it’s important not to neglect the ‘out-of-the-box’ functionality that comes as standard and, in reality, has been developed precisely because it helps companies like yours achieve common goals.

You may well find that by digging a little deeper into your solution’s full range of features – many of which can be personalised without requiring bespoke customisation work – you can put your investment to work immediately, keep costs to a minimum, demonstrate payback and build trust quickly among stakeholders. 

Buzz People is a logistics recruitment agency in Hampshire and a customer of one of our certified solution partners, Advoco. Peter Carney, operations director, gives an example of where simple customisation has made a big difference: “You can easily customise the data fields in our contact management solution, so we added fields for candidates’ key skills. This means that we can quickly search for suitable candidates when a new vacancy comes in. It’s really helped speed up the matching process between candidate and vacancy, and vice versa.”

Some customers do require a deeper level of customisation to configure their CRM’s automated workflows to their specific business processes. In this case, your provider must work closely with you to scope out the requirements, costs and timelines, and demonstrate the technical and project management experience to deliver on its promises.

Data decisions

The starting point of any CRM implementation should be to give your data a spring clean. Eliminating data inconsistencies and inaccuracies is a task that is very easily put on the back burner, but your drive to become more customer-centric - delivering meaningful data insight and a consistent customer experience across all channels of communication - will be thwarted by poor data.

We recommend giving your data an overhaul before it’s uploaded into your CRM. This way, you can get rid of unnecessary data from the outset and cleanse what is left, so you are starting with a clean sheet. This also allows you to establish the protocols that will form the basis of your data management going forward.

Of course, these protocols will be guided first and foremost by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into force on May 25 this year.  A structured and comprehensive information audit is a vital component of your compliance preparation and will pay dividends from a commercial perspective. Your GDPR-compliant database will be a far better representation of the people who want to do business with you and will serve as a springboard for CRM success across the business.

Heads in the cloud?

In the CRM world, the switch from licensed software to cloud-based solutions continues apace. We should say that some customers still prefer to host their CRM themselves, on-premise or indeed within their own cloud. This is usually if they have the in-house capacity and expertise to do so, along with a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure which meets their particular security needs.

However for the majority of companies, it is the anytime, anywhere access of a cloud deployment that makes your CRM initiative really fly. Having your data accessible via an app or on a handheld device allows your teams to update and track records, as well as monitor leads, opportunities and proposals on the go. The productivity gains can be tremendous.

In practical terms, the cloud option offers fast deployment, immediate access to new features, fixes or updates, lower total cost of ownership and the ability to scale at minimal cost. Plus, the right provider will secure your data in Tier IV certified data centres - a crucial matter under GDPR.

What’s more, cloud storage can be a huge boon for small companies. Returning to our earlier example of CRM in action for a recruitment agency, Ops Director Peter Carney says: “We typically have several PDFs attached to each record in our CRM, and it was taking up a large amount of space on our server. Moving to the Cloud-based version has freed up valuable space on our physical server while keeping our documents accessible and secure.”

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