Whether you’re settling into your first business role or you’re a seasoned pro, chances are you’ve come across the term “CRM.” CRM, which stands for customer relationship management, is the process by which organizations analyze and manage their interactions with current and potential customers.

A CRM system refers to the technology used to aid customer relationship management. Businesses use CRM systems to collect and store customer data in a central database. With this data, businesses can gain a better understanding of customer journeys to improve customer service, make more informed marketing decisions, and drive sales.

Why is a CRM system so important?

A well-built CRM system helps different functions across an organization stay aligned with each other. As the sole point of truth that different teams can access, a CRM system aids transparency, communication, and productivity. This in turn lends itself to more efficient project management.

In contrast, having customer data and other information stored across multiple places increases the risk of data discrepancies and makes it harder for functions to work together. It can also make it trickier to gain the big-picture view needed to properly plan and manage projects.

With that being said, let’s explore some best practices for implementing a new CRM system.

1. Identify your reasons, both short-and long-term

You should always make a note of current pain points and processes within your business that could be improved. Though a CRM system may not be able to instantly address every challenge, being able to prioritize any fixes and changes will bring added focus to its implementation.

It’s equally important to reflect on your organization’s goals to determine if a CRM system can support them. By doing so, you can better assess what key functionalities a CRM needs to have, along with what metrics your business will need to track in order to measure progress.

2. Introduce automation wherever you can

Cohesiveness isn’t the only benefit that a CRM system can bring to your business. The automation offered by most systems can significantly aid the productivity of different teams by minimizing redundant or time-consuming tasks.

For example, time spent on data entry can be eliminated by setting up real-time database updates. Automated reminders reduce the need for manual checks. Automated email routing can enable faster response times – for both internal and external requests!

By making automation a focus point of your CRM implementation, you can establish consistency while providing a more streamlined workflow for current employees, which will also encourage more people to adopt the CRM system for their daily work.

3. Prepare customized training and support

A CRM system can be a significant aid to a business, but that doesn’t mitigate the fact that it involves a change in how your teams operate. In order to support this transition, training is essential.
This education can be offered in a multitude of forms. Live group walkthroughs, 1:1 hands-on sessions, and even online courses. Different functions might need to master different features as well. You’ll need to provide relevant training for each major specialism.

Remember that employees may still need additional support after training, even if just a quick refresher. New starters will also need a way to be introduced to the system. Consider how regularly you can run training events, and what other learning resources can be made readily available.

4. Always think ahead, even after adoption

When implementing a CRM system, it’s crucial to explore whether it will be able to adapt alongside your business. A scalable CRM system should be able to handle most changes in data volume, user numbers, and functionalities without having to sacrifice performance or significant internal resources.

Think about how you’d like to handle requests for system changes as well. Are you willing to enlist outside support to facilitate these? Or is your goal to manage most changes internally?

A forward-thinking approach will not only influence how you build out workflows but is a useful best practice for each team to keep in mind when setting up their own processes. Assessing a process’s feasibility at a larger scale can save time and effort in the long run.

In conclusion: commit, don’t quit!

Implementing a CRM system can seem like a challenging process, but it’s one that’s well worth the effort for businesses ready to take the next step in their development.

From selecting the right platform to supporting change management, it’s vital to put the proper care into your CRM implementation process. In return, this will help ensure that your investment will be returned with increased productivity, greater scalability, and a more successful business.