Your CRM Journey

8 Feb 2021

Whether you are simply curious about CRM, just getting started, or an experienced user, you are all at a stage of your CRM journey. Why is it a journey I hear you ask? Well let me try to explain… 

There are so many products that you buy, take out of the box, plug in and you’re good to go. There are plenty more where that is just the beginning. If you get a new car, you will either make some modifications that you like, or changes because the car needs maintenance. With a new phone, you are permanently chopping and changing apps and downloading upgrades. The very same can be said for your CRM journey. It only really starts when you unpack it from the virtual box. 

Often the actual start is sometime later, once the initial round of configuration is done. That’s when you finally let your team loose on the system. This is often the moment when you realise you need to make some tweaks. For example, initially you might have thought that only the accounts department need access to invoices. But then you understand that your support department would be able to make much better decisions if they can quickly see the purchases your clients have made. Additional information such as prices paid also helps them decide on the approach to take with different customers. Hopefully you can see how this is not a completed process, but ongoing steps. 

It is all part of the CRM journey whereby your use of the system tends to grow as you get comfortable with it. 

Building Blocks 

I had a recent conversation with a client who was right at the beginning of their customer journey. They could understand the potential benefits of a fully-fledged CRM solution, but couldn’t quite figure out how to get there. I explained that by breaking the system down into blocks, you can piece it together bit by bit. For example, understand how to add a Lead to the system. Then learn how you can record an activity or an email against that Lead.

Moving on, apply those same principles to the Contacts and Companies modules, All of a sudden, you’re well on the way to managing your relationships. At that stage you might want to review the email templates that you are using. Having templates means saving time and limiting errors, as well as ensuring your message is always consistent with your brand. As you can see, that customer is building on their CRM journey, step by step.

The Win-Win

One of the core principles of a good CRM system is the ability to make the most of, and extend the lifetime customer journey. This creates something that is mutually beneficial to both you and your clients. You can find their details quickly and easily, reducing margins of error and saving your client precious time. Having that data at your fingertips means your team has a clear picture of the customer’s interactions with you.

You have the full customer history in front of you. This allows you to work with your clients’ best interests in mind. That doesn’t automatically translate to a hard-sell approach. Instead, by offering advice and information that is relevant and timely, you can create a positive impression. The customer will see that you are about helping them get the most value for money from your product. 

When we talk about building relationships with your customers, it also means understanding buying patterns. This is quite important! Instead of having to go through the whole sales cycle from scratch, you already have a list of people you know are likely to buy from you. It is cheaper and quicker to sell to existing clients than acquire new ones: customer retention vs acquisition.

Rolling out to a Wider Audience

Now that you have got your sales process nailed, it is time to look at the next stage of your CRM journey. You no doubt carry out other tasks within your business. It could be post-sales support, marketing, or project management. The good news is – if we think back to the building blocks principle I mentioned – you can apply the knowledge you’ve built using CRM for sales and roll that out to the next team. What may have seemed like a huge learning curve has become very manageable all of a sudden!

As you add users, you may encounter questions around permissions and security that weren’t relevant previously. A completely transparent model means everyone can see everything, but there may be sensitive data that you want to limit in visibility. It makes sense to think about what security measures you need to implement before rolling the system out to your wider audience. 

Forward Planning

Think long term. Both for you and your clients. How long do you tend to keep your clients? Could this be longer or do they have a finite customer lifecycle? Can you plot and plan that journey? If you can, you can pre-empt critical stages of the journey buy using Action Plans. This may mean that your clients stay with you for the expected duration, instead of concluding the relationship earlier than you might expect. 

Of course, as your business (and CRM) evolves, these steps may change. You might now have three product ranges to promote instead of the single one you started out with. Therefore, you need to make sure you keep those action plans up to date. 

A Journey Along Many Roads

Communication used to be quite simple. It was normally face to face, or by mail, phone or email. Nowadays the choice of platforms is endless, and it is forever evolving. What you set up initially may no longer offer the most attractive options. As an example – live chat is more popular than ever – have you looked into incorporating this into your available communication channels?

This channel also encourages dialogue. Sharing feedback, product development ideas and so on. This might sound like a little thing, but it has a lot of potential. It can elevate the relationship you have with your clients. If they are involved in suggesting product enhancements, then this is of mutual benefit. Firstly, it means you are developing your product exactly how your clients want or need it. There’s no guesswork involved. Secondly by bringing your clients into your business like that your relationship with those clients is elevated to something closer to a partnership. This in turn creates brand advocates and deepens those relationships. Once again, the theme is of a journey rather than something static. This process of engaging with your clients shows them how much they are valued. 

Listen to Clients and Solve their Problems

Often when a client raises a problem, you can take a couple of approaches. Firstly, you could go for the quick and easy win. Let’s say your client comes onto live chat to ask how to send a report to a colleague. You show them the steps, job done. They come back a week later, asking the same question, because then want to send that report to the client every week. So you could show them the ropes again and let them come back to you on a weekly basis until they get it. Or, you could think ahead and let them know how to schedule and send a report. Often asking a customer “why” they are doing something instead of just explaining the “how” can reveal some insights and help you give better advice. You might then suggest taking the manual steps out and creating a scheduled report instead. 

This fits back into the CRM journey, as you understand your customers’ processes in more depth. 

Have Regular Reviews

Regularly review your use of your CRM. The modules you originally planned – are they in use? Are you still aiming to meet those original goals you set? Or have you added any additional goals

It is important that you keep focused on those goals. Each business is unique and although there will be common business aims, your aims will be specific to you. Third parties may have good ideas regarding other goals but keep your original targets in sight. Once you are on the way to achieving those, or relieving the original pain points, you can then look around a bit more and see what else can be gained. 

If we flip this on its head – if you are using your CRM to look after the service needs of clients – you can also store details of their goals within your system. See where I mentioned the win-win earlier – that applies here also. 

Enjoy the Ride

In conclusion, your CRM journey can be as long as you make it. Whether you are incorporating new functionality or adding more data, it is always in transition. I would suggest keeping a roadmap and tracking your journey. That will stop you making unnecessary detours on the way. As with many journeys, the hardest part is often right at the beginning – actually setting off. But as long as you have your initial route planned, the rest should fall into place as you grow and develop the powerful business software tools you have at your fingertips.