Historically, CRM managed customer interactions throughout the sales cycle. But over time, publishers have enriched their suites that do much more and have become real platforms.
Today, the best CRM platforms streamline marketing, speed up workflows, and improve service. But if the deployment of a new CRM makes it possible to take advantage of these benefits, such a project also requires thinking about the challenges that these suites bring.
What are the advantages of CRM platforms?
Before you tackle the challenges, remember that CRM platforms offer many benefits that go beyond automating sales. For example :
personalization. With the in-depth knowledge of customers it enables, CRM can tailor marketing, customer service, and more generally the customer experience (CX) to each individual (or to each micro-segment of the market). This personalized – even ultra-personalized – approach can increase customer satisfaction and sales.
Organizations can only personalize their messages and actions if they carefully collect all customer data. This is where a CRM system comes into play.
CRM platforms aggregate demographics, purchase histories, and customer service interactions. This information allows marketers to serve more targeted ads. On the customer service side, customers don’t have to repeat themselves with their various interlocutors because CRMs allow agents to access the history of interactions.
Higher productivity. A CRM can work with other tools and streamline cross-functional workflows. For example, a CRM can automatically fill out forms with customer information from its repository (name, phone number, email, address, etc.) and have it signed – internally or externally – with a third-party electronic signature.
These integrations increase productivity by allowing agents to perform multiple tasks from a single interface. For example, when a sales team integrates CRM with email and calendar apps, sales reps see their pipelines, customer interactions, and upcoming appointments in one place.
Artificial intelligence in action. Businesses can use AI-powered CRMs to extract extremely valuable business insights from raw business data. For example, predictive CRMs can identify weak trends and provide recommendations for action. Similarly, some customer service CRMs use AI with sentiment analysis to detect customer emotions — like anger or happiness — so sales reps or call center agents can adjust their settings.
What are the biggest challenges with CRMs?
CRMs also come with challenges. Therefore, before starting any CRM project, managers must ensure that their organization can fulfill them. Here are four of the most common:
data in silos. Although CRMs store customer data in a unified and centralized database, different departments often use different CRM software. Information silos are a problem when sales reps hand customers off to service or vice versa. If the teams don’t have access to the same information, the CX suffers and the interest in a CRM decreases accordingly.
To avoid this problem, it is possible to invest in a Customer Data Platform (CDP). A CDP stores information from different CRM types and several other sources in one central location that all employees can access.
data entry. CRMs store important customer information, but keeping that data up to date is labor intensive. Agents need to enter data into the system to keep customer accounts detailed and up to date. Manual entry can be a challenge for employees who travel frequently and may not have the time to constantly update the system.
However, CRM platforms are increasingly using AI to automatically populate accounts with information from emails, text messages, phone calls, etc. to simplify this entry.
resistance to change. Like any new business application, a CRM can generate reactions from employees. To ensure the success of a deployment, it is necessary to prepare it in advance and support the implementation and the changes in the business processes that the platform will bring about.
Without leadership support, teams may struggle to adopt the system or even attempt to circumvent it, defeating the original goal of the project (sharing and unifying information, streamlining workflows, etc.).
The next 5 steps to choosing the right CRM
Once these various challenges have been well identified and anticipated, it is time to choose your CRM. Here is a methodology – summarized in five main steps – that can help you choose the CRM platform that suits your needs:
- Clearly define the needs of your organization. Form a multidisciplinary team (marketing, sales, IT, legal, etc.) and clearly define with them your limitations and goals you want to achieve with the CRM system.
- Analyze your processes and workflows. Understand how your marketers, sales reps, and front-line agents actually work every day. And with which functions of your current tools. This step allows you to refine the requirements that your future CRM must meet and the CX functionalities that it must imperatively offer you.
- Define KPIs and ROI. With your multidisciplinary team, identify the key performance indicators to measure success and justify the investment internally – specifically the investment of time to support change management (training, creating FAQs, appointing tutors, etc.). These KPIs are ideally summarized in a ROI.
- Evaluate available CRM software suites. Create a specification using the criteria from steps 1 and 2. Then take the time to review and compare the different CRMs to shortlist which ones best meet those needs. Also assess publishers’ roadmaps and their financial sustainability (a CRM project is a long-term project). Then don’t hesitate to challenge any publisher with demos in the presence of your business teams.
- Consult customer references. Also, don’t hesitate to talk to customers of the vendors you’ve shortlisted for feedback and information on implementation, support, customizations, updates, and more.