There are many reasons to invest in CRM software, but are organisations focusing on the right ones? LinkedIn and Twitter integration or anytime, anywhere access via mobile sound great, but how much practical value do they offer?
When it comes to CRM, many of the benefits appear too intangible:
- Where is the return on investment (ROI)?
- What difference will the CRM investment make to the bottom line?
- What is the compelling event that CRM supports?
Without a clear indication that CRM can deliver ROI, many companies will struggle to justify investment.
The truth is that CRM is about far more than real time interaction with LinkedIn or mobile access to customer history. With the right approach, CRM can transform both productivity and information accuracy, to deliver measurable value.
Use CRM to transform productivity in your organisation
How do organisations without a CRM system manage communications with customers and suppliers? Most are relying upon Microsoft Outlook and, as a result, have a complex hierarchy of folders and subfolders where communications with individual customers and suppliers are stored – from reports and orders, to opportunities.
Managing this communication is incredibly time consuming:
- Every email has to be dragged and dropped into the appropriate folder.
- Search requires very specific description into the filters to find the right record.
In contrast, when Outlook is integrated into a CRM system, the process is streamlined and seamless.
- Emails are automatically recorded within the relevant client file.
- Any individual opening that file has immediate access to the full history of communication across the organisation.
Tip 1: Take an example customer and review an average communication pattern to that customer in one week. Then multiply this by the number of customers you have and any other stakeholders that you may be regularly communicating with such as suppliers, prospects etc Would you be able to easily collate a communication timeline if needed?
Transform reporting to deliver more insight
Organisations without CRM are still heavily reliant on Excel spreadsheets for reporting. In practice, this means significant time must be spent creating, collating and analysing business information:
- Multiple reports are generated in Excel spreadsheets.
- Numerous individuals across the business are required to provide input.
- One individual spends upwards of three to four days every month compiling these reports to deliver management information.
- Organisations still lack up to date insight into day to day business performance.
Out of the box reporting from CRM transforms this model:
- Reports can be set up to run automatically, from sales pipeline to geographic performance.
- Information can be displayed via dashboards for ease of use.
- Continuous access to critical business performance enables immediate response to opportunities.
Tip 2. Consider the daily reliance on Excel spreadsheets in your business choosing two or three example employees across the business. How often do they utilise Excel? Where is that data duplicated? Now consider this across the organisation to give some context and scale to your argument.
Free up resource by automating mundane tasks
One of the biggest complaints from sales people is the amount of time spent on routine administration that would be far better allocated to sales activity. Just consider the process that has to be followed every time an order is closed:
- Sales person emails the client with an order acknowledgement.
- Sales person sends the client the terms & conditions.
- Sales person then emails the accounts department to confirm the order is being raised.
- Accounts department manually enters all the line items into the finance package in order to send an invoice.
The entire process is time consuming and risks errors creeping in which could impact the overall customer delivery experience.
In contrast, using an escalation rule within CRM that entire process can be streamlined. As soon as the order is closed, the system:
- Automatically emails the client with a confirmation and terms and conditions.
- Informs the accounts team.
- Create an order within the finance system.
Tip 3: Think you know how your business works? Ask department heads to document the end to end process of your business. Do they demonstrate efficiency? Is there any confusion over responsibility or duplication of effort? Documenting your processes may lead you to question if current activity is really serving your business well and where automation could result in higher productivity and improved service levels.
Improving accuracy leads to a more profitable business
One of the biggest challenges for organisations is a lack of data accuracy – especially about customers. When lead capture is recorded in one place, prospect interactions in another, customer orders in a third, and on-going customer interactions in a fourth, the company faces immediate challenges:
- How much time is spent entering information on the same customer into different systems?
- How often is that information inaccurate, causing potential problems?
- How can a company track the progress of its leads through the sales process without undertaking a great deal of time consuming, manual effort?
- How can sales people ensure cross- and up-selling opportunities are not missed?
In contrast, with a CRM system the information is entered once. In addition to improving accuracy, this single source of customer information can improve day to day performance:
- Marketing can track leads through to process to determine success of different generation activity and refine future strategy.
- Sales can understand immediately the customer interactions that have already occurred, improving the timeliness and relevance of each new conversation, to drive better results.
Tip 4: How many times does a customer name get entered into a system in your organisation? Is there manual filing too? Does the marketing team use a different system to the customer service team? By reviewing the data held on one particular customer across all systems you will be able to identify duplication and errors…now multiply that by the number of customers, prospects and suppliers you work with.
Transforming communication with CRM
In a growing economy, many companies are seeing more success from lead generation activity. But how effectively are these leads being utilised? It is widely accepted that if a hot prospect is not contacted within 24 hours, that individual will contact someone else; the pressure is on to ensure every single lead is followed up, quickly.
There are a number of ways the CRM system can be used to improve communication with prospects and customers. For example, a prospect visiting an exhibition stand has a chat with the sales person and hands over a business card:
- Traditionally, the salesperson waits until after the exhibition to go through all the cards and tries to remember which is the most likely to result in a sale, by which time the value of the initial interaction has diminished.
- Using CRM, the salesperson can capture the prospect’s details using a business card scanner into the CRM lead system. An automated email is generated thanking the individual for visiting the stand and attaching product information or corporate brochure.
Tip 5: Think initial enquiry to order. Then think order to cash. What does that currently look like in your business (look back at your business processes again) and what is the timescale attached with each? Can you speed it up through automation and using CRM to give you a single point of view?
Making the Case
Organisations increasingly want to invest in technologies that improve the quality of customer engagement; they need to increase productivity, ensure leads are effectively utilised and maximise up and cross-selling opportunities.
To make the business case for CRM investment, it is essential that organisations focus on the immediate benefits in areas of productivity and customer data accuracy that can be attained.
Utilising CRM enables companies to:
- Reduce reliance on spreadsheets.
- Streamline sales processes.
- Improve data quality.
By minimising mundane tasks and providing fast access to accurate information, organisations can achieve a fast ROI from the CRM investment.