A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is an incredible way to organize all of your customer data in one place, helping your company develop a customer-centric business philosophy. A CRM drastically improves the customer experience by personalizing your engagements with clients, building loyal fans of your brand, and transforming how your company organizes and automates your key business processes. Not only does a CRM and a customer-focused business improve the customer experience, but it also leads to your business bringing in more revenue and higher profit margins.

Choosing and implementing a CRM can be a difficult task that comes with some inherent complications and risks. In fact, according to Meta Group Inc, 55% -75% of CRM implementation projects initially fail. One of the main causes of CRM implementation failure is employee resistance. Change is always difficult, but it is especially challenging for larger organizations that can be more stuck in their ways. Combine this resistance to change with a lack of commitment from management, and you have a sure recipe for implementation failure.

Choosing the wrong CRM system and/or a badly implemented roll-out will frustrate your staff, create more work, and ultimately cost your business time and money. That makes it essential to do the upfront work required to define your system requirements, create an implementation plan, engage your staff and management, and agree on how to measure success. The goal of a well-run company is to have every department working together with very little to no friction, and a good CRM implementation plan is the first step to achieving this. However, it is important to think through each step of the rollout in advance: 

  1. Identify and engage all key stakeholders
  2. Define features and functionality
  3. Choose the right CRM
  4. Implementation
  5. Training and Support

Each business has unique employees, objectives, and culture, so it is important to tailor each of the following steps to perfectly meet your needs.

Tip 1. Identify and engage all key stakeholders

Early generation CRMs were strictly geared toward sales professionals, offering a convenient way to store information and track communication between your business and customers and prospects. Today, CRMs have become central repositories that can track all types of interactions with your customers and prospects, offering support for sales, marketing, finance, and customer service. 

The first step to successfully implementing a CRM is to identify all key stakeholders within your company, including technical managers and business leaders. Once they are identified, you will have a group meeting to discuss how and why a CRM will benefit them and the company. Having the buy-in of key managers and employees will be critical to a successful implementation.

During these meetings, it is important to be open to feedback. Listen to each employee’s thoughts, concerns, and level of commitment, and make sure to address their concerns and ideas early on in the process.  You will also want to ask for input to help you identify which specific business processes may be affected by the addition of a CRM, as well as what metrics would indicate that CRM implementation has been successful. Each individual department should also be asked to identify critical systems that a CRM may have to integrate, as well as what data that may need to flow between these systems

Tip 2.  Define Requirements

After the meeting, you should have more information regarding how each individual department will be impacted by having a central repository of customer data and interactions. Armed with this information, you should now schedule individual meetings with each department. The goal of these department meetings is to understand what features and functionality are needed for their group to successfully implement automation and changes to their business process. Each department should be tasked with defining their specific requirements in order to implement a CRM system.

Tip 3. Choosing the Right CRM

With the information collected during steps 1 and 2, it is time to shop around for the best CRM system that fits your requirements and budget.  The great news is that the new generation of SaaS (Software as a Service) CRMs come in a variety of price points. They will either have or will integrate with other tools to provide a wealth of features and functionality that include:

  • Lead and deal management
  • Sales workflow automation
  • Marketing workflow automation
  • Email and calendar integration
  • Email marketing
  • Analytics and reporting
  • Ecommerce integration
  • Ticketing

Some CRMs even have free versions that many small businesses will find sufficient, as these free versions only have limitations on the number of users or features.

Choosing the right CRM will be critical to your company’s success, not only during the immediate roll-out phase but also as you are forced to adapt the CRM to your needs as your business grows. 

Interested in finding the best free CRM? DigiGriot can help.

Tip 4.  Implementation

With an engaged team supporting you, it is now time to implement the CRM system. Over the span of around two weeks, you will be centralizing all of your customer’s data into one accessible CRM system. That means you need to find where all existing data is stored, make sure the data is clean and organized, and decide the best way to get the data into your CRM. Oftentimes, this can mean importing the data from a third-party program (such as Quickbooks and/or your online store) or from company spreadsheets and records.

Most CRM systems store not only the data, but also the complex relationships that exist between contacts, deals, purchases, companies, and tickets. Preserving these relationships can be challenging, so it is important to be thorough when importing data. Regardless of how you choose to import the data, first make sure all data is clearly organized and correctly labeled, defining what data is being imported (First Name, Last Name, phone number, company, etc.) and transferring any connections to other records such as company records.  

Depending on the volume and complexity of your existing data you may want to consider hiring a data migration expert like Trujay to help you preserve the integrity of your data.

The key to implementation success is getting the entire team to be enthusiastic about the project. In order to get everybody on board, try to constantly engage management and staff, involving them with every step of the implementation process. In addition to the meetings mentioned above, constantly ask employees for help and keep them in the loop on all decision making. If there is ever an opportunity to outsource tasks to a manager or team, do so. With an engaged and motivated management team and staff, CRM implementation is likely to go much more smoothly.  However, as you continue implementing the new CRM system, you will surely get new information that will require making tweaks and changes to the original plan.

Tip 5. Training Testing and Support

In parallel with CRM implementation, you will want to identify all of the individuals that will be using the new system and start training them. During training, you will need to provide them with all of the information they need to take advantage of the advanced functionality that a CRM system offers. You may want to consider follow-up one-on-one sessions with each employee, making sure they fully understand the CRM system and the processes they need to follow.

During this time frame, you also want to be testing a variety of different situations to make sure the CRM implementation was successful. Push the CRM system to its limits, thinking of increasingly obscure scenarios and making sure the customer experience remains smooth. This proactive type of thinking is a great way to make sure your business is ready for anything.

Supporting the staff, especially through the early stages, is critical to success.  Depending on the size of your organization, you will want to assign and train a technical support contact point. Giving your staff easy and quick resolutions to any issue that comes up will increase the success of the roll-out. Frustrated employees will eventually give up and stop using the system entirely. 

CRM Implementation Plan and Support

CRM implementation does not stop there. Full implementation is an ongoing task, requiring constant changes as your business continues to evolve and grow. The best way to ensure a flawless CRM implementation plan is to bring in a team of experts to create a foolproof plan. Digigriot specializes in helping companies choose and implement the right CRM for their needs. We have experience helping businesses in a variety of different industries automate business processes and improve the customer experience in order to accelerate revenue and profitability.  If you are interested in learning more about how CRM can help your business or if you require assistance in developing a CRM implementation plan, contact Digigriot to request a free 30-minute consultation.