You want your customer relationship management (CRM) solution to save time and increase the return on your investment as soon as possible. Yet no matter how good your CRM program is, you won’t get your complete money’s worth out of it without a successful implementation. A seamless implementation is critical to your CRM success.
The largest portion of your investment in your CRM is the time you spend using the program. It, therefore, pays to maximize your investment by early mastery. Commit your team to learning the system in the short term when you launch the program, and you’ll have a staff committed to getting full usage out of your CRM in the long term.
Before you even purchase your CRM program, you need to know what you’ll be in for when you launch it. Structure and planning beforehand are the keys to a successful implementation. Here are seven steps that will help you implement your new CRM successfully:
1. Begin by Selecting the Right CRM
Arguably, the success of your decision to purchase a CRM program depends entirely on the quality of the program itself—and its fit with your company’s needs. To select the best CRM for your needs, you first need to understand both your current needs and your future requirements. What isn’t your current CRM processes doing for you that you depend on most? What do you want to achieve in the future with your CRM’s help? Get your entire team involved in the CRM selection process. Let them suggest ideas about what they would like to see in the new CRM. After everyone has a chance to contribute their suggestions, filter the less reasonable requests.
Next, define your budget and evaluate each system. Take into consideration both what it will cost you to implement as well as the monthly and annual costs. During this step, evaluate at least five CRMs that meet your criteria. Narrow this group of contenders to at least two. Don’t only evaluate the product itself. Consider each program’s implementation, training, and support processes, too.
2. Understand and Illustrate Your Workflow Processes
One of the most crucial components of a successful implementation is to understand your workflow processes. The best way to do that is to sketch out the workflows of everyone in your organization who will use the CRM. To make the most of your chosen CRM solution, you must be able to communicate these essential workflows to your CRM vendor.
Look for any bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and redundancies. Determine the top priorities in each workflow. Look into where you can streamline each process. Which parts must remain? Which areas of each workflow can you change to make them more efficient?
3. Accept That CRMs Won’t Solve All Your Problems
Realize that your CRM solution isn’t a magic bullet. It won’t, for instance, solve your people problems. Once you accept that, you’ll have a more realistic view of what your CRM can do for you. All CRMs are different so make sure you find one that solves your most pressing challenges. Find a CRM that can improve most of your workflow processes in its native environment and has sufficient application program interfaces (APIs) to connect to third-party applications for less critical tasks.
4. Get Help with Implementation Early On
Just as the early years of raising children are critical to their overall development in life, the same is true of how your company adopts your new CRM. The first three to six months are crucial to the program’s success. A successful deployment will bring tremendous value to your company’s return on its investment. Clean your data before you implement the new system. Work with your CRM vendor or a consultant (preferably someone certified in your CRM’s setup and implementation). Get training. Look for recommendations and guidance. This step is critical to a successful implementation. A poor adoption out of the gate is a course that is hard to correct and usually destined for failure.
5. Enlist Executive Sponsorship
The decision to integrate a CRM in your business needs to come from the top down. Department leaders and upper management need to support your company’s need for a CRM. Therefore, once you have your shortlist of potential CRMs, include your leadership team in the evaluation process. Sell your executives on the benefits of a CRM, no matter what their initial perception of the new tool. Discuss the areas you identified as problematic within your workflows with them. Get them to participate in selecting the requirements. Find out what is important to them.
Even more importantly, if your upper management team will depend on the CRM for monitoring data or interacting with other users, all other users are more likely to become more disciplined with their CRM activity. Let the executives deal with employees who resist the change.
6. Appoint a Super User
Determine who will manage the implementation process. Designate that person to be the main contact and relationship manager between your business and the CRM vendor. This doesn’t have to be just one person. This “super user” could also be a small team.
If you’ve chosen a team as your super user, make sure that all team members are on the same page. Ensure that each team member can participate equally in implementation activities, training, and support. When you establish ownership of the project early on and maintain an ongoing relationship, you can manage expectations and tame unneeded requests, avoiding extra costs. The project manager must make sure that the new system meets your company’s core requirements, both short-term, and long-term.
7. Integrate the CRM into Your Company Culture
The sooner you can make your CRM part of your company’s culture and normal workflows, the more quickly your users will adopt it. Include the CRM’s data reporting in your weekly meetings. Once people see how the information is being used, they’ll recognize the relevance of their contribution. Share your end goals with your essential contributors. Seeing its importance, they will make sure their data is well kept and accurate.
Review the data often to ensure quality. Don’t let the adage, “garbage in, garbage out” characterize your usage. When your employees realize that you will scrutinize their data, they will take more precautions when they prepare their numbers. When you analyze the information in your CRM continuously, you’ll be on the road to a successful implementation.
Once You Have Implemented Your CRM, Stay on Top of It
Keep abreast of new features and capabilities that your CRM system may offer in the future. As your company grows, explore product improvements that can benefit your company. Find how you can use your CRM to take advantage of coming business trends.
To take advantage of the new ways customers interact with your business, you need the right systems and processes in place. With the right CRM—rightly implemented—you can interact with your customers more frequently. More importantly, you’ll be able to personalize and contextualize your message to them.
Get the most out of your CRM by using it to generate revenue by better serving and supporting your customers every step along their journey, from acquisition to advocacy. Choose a next generation, omnichannel CRM solution that will support you as you adapt to every innovation that will enhance your relationship with your customers and make your business more efficient. After all, that’s the entire point of having a CRM in the first place. Choose wisely, implement carefully. After your successful implementation, use your CRM to its full capacity to meet your customers’ every need.