Create a CRM success plan

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Five steps to ensure success with your contact management software

Assessing the options and selecting contact management software can be challenging. But don’t make the mistake of thinking your job is done once you close the deal and install the CRM system. For real, impactful success businesses and organizations must go one step (or five steps!) further and develop a plan for both implementation and ongoing use of the customer relationship management tool.

These five steps will help you develop a plan that will lead to the successful use of your contact management software.

  1. Get your team together
  2. State your expectations
  3. Take a good look at your data
  4. Define your success measures
  5. Check in frequently

The CRM team

It’s well known that without company-wide buy-in, a contact management system has little chance of success. When you are gathering the key members of your CRM team, make sure you have input from all levels of the company including both senior management and the actual day-to-day users. And don’t wait too long to involve your team in the process – seeking input at an early stage will more likely lead to the strong support of the system. Be sure the team understands the rationale, and be ready to address any concerns or feedback. For even more positive results, look at ways to reward users who have embraced the CRM and use it efficiently.

Often a system with lots of “bells and whistles” looks attractive to management, but they may soon find that employees know best which features are most important, and most likely to be used in the long run. 

 Set up a simple-to-use permissions process to ensure the tool is accessible at the correct levels by the correct team members. Start with a chart of all the possible users, their locations and their assigned level of access. Contact Boss has a sophisticated system for setting access and tracking logins, ensuring that the right people are easily connecting with the CRM data as required.

What do you need from your contact management software?

Don’t assume that your CRM is only good for managing names and addresses! There are many functions that a good contact management system can perform. CRM software like Contact Boss can help manage events, track callers and visitors, or generate detailed customer profiles. Be very clear on company requirements so that when it comes time for evaluation you have a specific set of parameters against which to measure. Does success for your organization include assessing the number of effective marketing campaigns executed through the contact database, or attendance by qualified leads at a promotional event? Your CRM should support the above activities and also provide a means to document details on response rates, interactions, and overall engagement. Be sure to identify, from among possible functions, which areas of your CRM are most important to your business. Once the list has been prioritized you will be equipped to calculate your KPIs. But a word of caution – don’t be too ambitious all at once; you may find it more efficient, and less daunting, to phase-in overtime the supplemental uses of the CRM tool along with the relevant success measures.

Look at the data!

We’ve heard it a thousand times (GIGO: Garbage In =Garbage Out) which only confirms it must be true. As you prepare to migrate your data, ensure you have experts on hand to analyze and advise on the quality of the records. Define the fields that are most important for your business, decide on the cut-off date for historic data, ensure it is easily accessed and formatted, and that it is as consistent as possible for accurate integration into the contact data management system. What is the policy for identifying and dealing with duplicate records? Ensure you have clearly defined categories if you plan to use the CRM for more than just customers.

Define your success measures

Each organization has its own priorities for its CRM – for some success may simply mean more sales and revenue, for others it could be improved customer service. It may seem most important that the data management system integrates seamlessly with current applications. Still, other organizations may find it most important that all staff members have embraced the technology and are actively using it in the course of their daily work.

Make note of the expectations for your CRM, and make a list in order of priority. Be sure to involve your team in this step as well. Then define how you will measure success in each of your priorities. The measures must extend beyond “feel good” accounts – (“Seems OK to me…No real issues…”) and actually set some specific and quantifiable standards that can be compared over time and preferably against a time when that CRM was not in use. Optimize your contact management database system to set up reports and a dashboard that collect historic data and can be easily checked on a regular basis.

Regular check-ups lead to success!

Most of us don’t love going to the dentist, but we all know that regular checkups help identify potential problems early and the cure is usually much simpler than trying to deal with a cavity that has developed over time. In other words, setting up a CRM and just letting it run unattended is never recommended. You have created a solid team in Step One – make use of their skills and knowledge by scheduling regular meetings to collect feedback, allowing you to address issues both big and small.

Also, your contact management system will have some very efficient built-in tools to record results and allow for frequent evaluations of performance. Assign someone to log in to the dashboard regularly and expect comprehensive reports that allow for ongoing comparisons – against your own goals and objectives and possibly against industry standards.

Over the past decade, CRM software has continued to improve, and organizations are beginning to understand how to optimize their data management systems.  Now departments can collaborate, enhancing customer service and improving efficiencies. To really make the most of a CRM software, it is essential to follow a clearly defined strategy.

It is true that a subscription to Contact Boss Pro is very reasonably priced at under $100 CAD per year, but that doesn’t mean you should not take full advantage of all the features and optimize your subscription by following your CRM strategy. 


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A consummate communicator, Carol Horne has undertaken a variety of content creation projects over the past few decades. She supplied, assigned and edited copy for the majority of Tourism PEI’s consumer content. She led the marketing team at Confederation Centre where she developed marketing and communications strategies to enhance awareness and generate revenue for the theatre, gallery, restaurant and gift shop. In her role as Chief Marketing Officer she oversaw the development and execution of marketing, graphic design, social media, communications and PR, sales, development and guest services activity plans. As manager of the Canadian Tourism Commission’s online media centre and the US consumer E-Newsletter she was in charge of creating and curating Canada’s tourism promotion content.

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