Utilising a customer relationship management (CRM) platform can be one of the best decisions for your business, regardless of its size. Specifically, the right CRM system can help you manage your important customer data (including contact information and sales records) while storing it in one secure yet accessible location. All of this makes it easier for your business to provide the best customer service while also gaining valuable insights from the data you gather.
One of the biggest hangups business owners have about selecting a CRM system, however, is implementing it within their respective companies. After all, migrating existing customer data from an outdated platform to a state-of-the-art CRM system can be a daunting task. Fortunately, the entire process can be made easier when you follow the right steps along the way.
1) Evaluate your short- and long-term goals
Before you've even started to explore your options when it comes to CRM platforms, it's a good idea to touch base with other members of your team and establish some short- and long-term goals for implementing this software. Don't just assume that you're all on the same page here.
For starters, consider what you expect your CRM system to help your business accomplish. This could be anything from nurturing new leads to improving upon the customer support you're already offering. You might also want to save time on administrative tasks with your new CRM platform, which could save you some money in the process. In fact, did you know that the average return on investment (ROI) for a CRM platform is almost £7 for every dollar spent?
As you discuss and agree upon these goals, take time to write them down. From there, you'll have a better idea of what to look for when it comes to a CRM platform that will best suit your needs.
2) Take time to research and evaluate your options
Once you have established your most important short- and long-term goals of implementing a CRM platform, it's time to start exploring your options. As you begin your search, you'll quickly find that there is no shortage of CRM systems available to you. As you explore different software solutions, you might be able to narrow things down by searching for a platform that is specifically designed for your industry. Such a platform will be designed around the unique needs (and possibly even unique regulatory requirements) of your business and industry.
3) Don't overlook third-party integrations
One of the more complicated aspects of implementing a CRM platform is making sure it will integrate well with any other applications or platforms your business is currently using. Before you decide on a CRM platform, then, make a list of the other applications your business relies on; from there, you can consult with the CRM system's support team to find out whether these applications will be supported. The last thing you want is to select a CRM platform—only to discover far into the implementation process that you're going to have trouble integrating third-party applications.
4) Develop a data migration plan
Another complex aspect of implementing a new CRM platform is taking the time to actually migrate all your existing data over to the platform itself. Depending on how much data you have to transfer and how it was previously stored, this can be a time-consuming and cumbersome process. This is especially true if you'll be manually scanning in physical files and documents from, say, a filing cabinet.
This is where having a great support team will make all the difference. Your customer service/support staff from your CRM platform should be able to walk you through the process of migrating all your data as seamlessly as possible so you can avoid hiccups and snags. You may also want to run through a "test" of your migration plan before you get started.
5) Set aside dedicated time for training
Even the most user-friendly and intuitive CRM platform will take some getting used to by your team. With this in mind, it's important to set aside some dedicated time for training on the new platform. Yes, this training will cost your company some money—but making sure that everybody is confident when it comes to using the new software will save you a lot of headaches (and costly mistakes) down the road.
And remember, you know your team best. Use your unique knowledge of your staff to determine what type of training solution will best suit them. It may even be a good idea to offer a few different training solutions (hands-on, digital, etc.) to suit various learning styles. Likewise, as updates to your CRM software become available, be prepared to set aside some additional time for more training. Keeping employees up-to-date on all features of your CRM software will help you get the most out of it.
6) Be prepared to make changes as needed
Last but not least, understand that the right CRM platform should adapt to your company's ever-changing needs. Even after you've implemented your software, then, it's a good idea to re-assess things every few months to see how the platform is working to meet your initial goals. If not, then it may be time to contact your CRM support team to see if there are any features you haven't been using to their full potential—or any other changes you can make to optimize your use of the platform.
The bottom line on implementing a CRM system
Generally, implementing a CRM system is easiest when it's done early in the process—possibly before a business has even established a significant customer base. Regardless, the right CRM platform will be designed to make the transition as seamless as possible for business owners. And of course, following these practical steps along the way can ease the transition as well.
Looking for more assistance as you navigate the world of CRM platforms? Our knowledgeable and experienced team is here to help. Contact us today!