Data Management Central: Is your CRM system an integrated part of your team?

11 Sep 2023

When implemented correctly, your CRM system acts like another member of your team. A ‘virtual team member’ who is entirely dedicated to data management and keeping everyone else on track.   

Aside from the information storage, calendar and task management, and automation of mundane tasks, it’s the best way to think about your CRM system. 

Just like any other member of your team, there’s going to be a period of onboarding, and regular personal and skills development. 

Onboarding? Skills development? It’s a piece of software, not a person!

I know it sounds a bit strange, but read on and I’ll explain.

I’ll start with the onboarding process, Often people will think of onboarding in relation to customers, but it is also a process you need to apply to your staff – your CRM users. They need to quickly learn anything and everything about how your business operates. That’s everything from the words you use to the products you sell and the processes you follow. 

Before unleashing your new CRM onto your team, it needs to be configured to cater for your business processes. Adding custom fields and templates, using your terminology, and reflecting your brand.  

If you notice that some of those processes are repetitive tasks that the team needs to grind out, take a look at the automation available. Automation takes away the time taken to set up these routine tasks and also eliminates the human error factor of forgetting to do or document them.

To give an example, if you want to send a satisfaction survey after every ticket is closed, you could set up an email plan that automatically fires that email out based on ticket status. That means one less job to remember, without losing any results. That right there is your CRM acting as a member of your team. 

This implementation phase is vital to get right! If you don’t, your CRM won’t fit in with the rest of your business. You need to demonstrate CRM offers benefits to your business and team. 

CRM Evolution

What about the personal and skills development? Well, your business will change and grow over time. As the business develops, so do your employees’ roles. It stands to reason that your CRM system must also evolve and adapt to fit in with these changes.

For example, if you decide to branch out into a new area of your industry, your sales team will need to learn the new terminology and how to sell these products. Your engineers will need to learn how to install them and your support staff will need to understand how it all works. 

Similarly, your CRM system will need updating with all the necessary product information to support your various departments. Strategically, it plays a leading role as it will need configuring before your team can start to promote the new product range. It’s about having a good strategy for the management of your CRM and customer data. 

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Building your CRM and Data Strategy

It’s good practice to have a document that details how your business processes and manages personal data. (GDPR is here to stay!) And it’s inevitable that your CRM system will play a fairly large, if not the starring, role in that. Have you thought about implementing Data Retention Rules (DRR)?

Think about how long you want to store data. When a customer has moved on, how long should you keep information about that ex-client? And remember it’s not just the client record itself, but also linked emails, activities, Opportunities and so on. Once you have worked that out on paper you can put your CRM to work in applying those DRR. This serves many purposes. It means your data is kept up-to-date, and that your system is not stuffed full of legacy details. Therefore reports, searches, views etc become that much easier to manage.

It’s also good to regularly review these types of practise to make sure your DRR are still fit for purpose, and that you remain GDPR compliant. The good thing about using a CRM to manage this, is that it is scalable. The rules you put in place will function whether you are dealing with 1,000 clients or 100,000. 

Analyse and Review

There are very few businesses or industries that don’t experience development and fluctuation of some kind. You always need to keep an eye on technological, political and economic factors as well as see what your competitors are doing. Reviewing your departmental processes, CRM usage, and data management strategy consists of three parts: 

  1. Diagnosing what is and isn’t working
  2. Implementing changes to address problem areas
  3. Reviewing performance and reflecting on changes

Diagnose: What parts of your CRM and data management strategy aren’t working?

Are you finding a lot of duplicate records in your system?  Is there a point in the process where tasks are being missed off? Are there any manual jobs your team is doing that could be automated? Does your team have complaints about the process or system? 

These kinds of issues and questions are signs that you need to make changes to your CRM and your data management processes.

You can have set meetings to discuss and diagnose these, but who honestly has the time for that? It’s better if you make these kinds of questions part of your regular departmental meetings. 

For example, we were having issues with a certain task being completed that fell right at the end of the sales process. We implemented some workflow to create a reminder for the team to complete it. We then included a graph related to all of these tasks into the dashboards we use for our sales meetings. 

This way, while the team are talking about targets and lead generation, we can also talk about how new customer handoffs to the projects team are going. And you know what?  It worked, the tasks get done and no one ever (well, hardly ever) gets named and shamed.

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Make Changes: Implement new processes (and tools) to address

From the example above, you can see how implementing a relatively small change can have a tangible benefit to your company. We went from regularly missing out on some vital information to relying on this data every single day.

The important thing with making changes to your processes, CRM, and/or data management is communication.

Everyone needs to know what changes are being made, why these changes are necessary, and how they can provide feedback on how well they are working.

When people feel like they are part of the process and have some ownership of it, they are far more likely to adopt these new changes.

Reflect and Review: Are these new data management processes and tools working for you?

Once you’ve implemented the changes, you need to find out if they’ve worked. You can do so by looking at facts and reporting on the data in your system. As well as the quantitative data, you need to consider the qualitative. Solicit feedback from your team and keep up with discussions around your process and data management strategy in team meetings. 

Going back to the example I shared above. Just because we find that the sales team are completing these tasks doesn’t mean we stop discussing their importance. We recently added a few more tasks and actions to the workflow. Because we recognised that this stage of the customer journey was important to departments outside of sales and projects.

One of the purposes of using a CRM system across your different departments is that the data is accessible to all. Sales can see what marketing activities have taken place. Support can see which products your customers are using. The finance team can keep tabs on sales activity. Once configured and maintained correctly, CRM becomes the glue that holds the whole machine together.