Final rules of CRM

Implementation, training, testing and customer satisfaction are vital rules of CRM.

The final instalment in a series of four Industry Insights covers the remaining rules of CRM: encouraging training, testing and a focus on customer satisfaction.

Rule 14: The implementation is as important as product choice

Just as a chain is only as good as its weakest link, a CRM solution is only as good as its implementation. The best product in the world will not meet expectations unless it is implemented in a way that matches requirements.

Having chosen a product, make sure it will work for the environment by creating a blueprint describing goals and expectations before starting the implementation process. Any questions regarding these expectations should be directed to the implementation team member designated to act as the liaison with the vendor/reseller handling the implementation.

Beyond loading software onto a server and tailoring it to specific needs, the CRM implementation requires the involvement of all employees who will use the system. Failure to obtain this support will simply mean the system will not be fully utilised.

Instead, reassure staff that they will receive all training required and that the system will make them more productive while making their jobs easier. Make the system even more well received by letting all stakeholders know how the implementation process is progressing. They will become eager to get the process completed and to get running on the new system.

Rule 15: Good training can`t be "on the job"

Good training on the new CRM system, tailored to different skills levels of employees, is essential. Employee buy-in is indispensable to its success. Don`t bore a technically adept sales manager with a beginner`s level dissertation on using computer-based scheduler. And don`t intimidate a customer service agent with techno-speak about the complexities of back-end integration. Just as the company has tailored the product for its environment, tailor the training for end-users.

Training programmes should begin before roll-out. This will ensure end-users are ready to use the system when it`s finally ready for them. In addition, this early training will add to the enthusiasm for the roll-out and lay the groundwork for widespread acceptance.

Rule 16: Test or crash and burn

Beyond loading software onto a server and tailoring it to specific needs, the CRM implementation requires the involvement of all employees who will use the system.

Ashley Ellington is MD of Softline Enterprise

Don`t overlook the importance of testing the software implementation before rolling out. A test that involves mock customer data can be invaluable in determining how well the system receives and processes information. It is better to find a glitch during the pre-roll-out phase than to get stuck on one when talking to a customer.

As part of the testing process, ensure the back-office integration is working properly. Make a list of typical operations that end-users will engage in, and test each and every one. Try to access data from the accounting system, for example, before a customer service agent needs to actually do so. Test how customer data can be updated on the centralised database and make sure those updates are available throughout the system.

Rule 17: Focus on improving customer satisfaction

Never lose sight of the fact that customers are the reason for the CRM implementation. Get feedback from them to see if their satisfaction levels are really increasing, or if there are improvements they would like to see. If the company has chosen its CRM solution carefully, it should be flexible enough to adapt to evolving customer needs. And don`t overlook end-user groups.

Keep the communication channels open after roll-out and keep the CRM solution rolling along. Equally importantly, never overlook the power of CRM to self-monitor. Set up metrics that the system can track and always be sure the company is, in fact, increasing customer satisfaction, shortening sales cycles, improving efficiency, luring customers away from the competition, increasing profitability and boosting the sales bottom line.

* Ashley Ellington is MD of Softline Enterprise.

Ashley Ellington
MD of Softline Enterprise.

Ashley Ellington is MD of Softline Enterprise.

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