Investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) software package can be one of the best ways to enhance your business relationships and boost profitability. CRM software is a powerful application that, when used to its full potential, can not only mean better customer relationships, but also more streamlined processes, increased sales, and happier employees.
However, many companies miss out on these benefits by not using the software to its full potential. Here is a start-to-finish guide for how to maximize the benefits of your CRM software.
Choose the right software package
Getting the most out of CRM software starts by picking the right application to meet the needs of your business and of your employees. Before purchasing a software package, identify the goals you would like the software to help you achieve and ask your employees what features they would be most likely to use. Take advantage of free trials to explore different options. After you purchase a software package, encourage your employees to give feedback about it on an ongoing basis.
Establish data protocols
Before launching the software in your organization, draw up protocols for how the data will be entered. Even something as simple as having guidelines for how names should be entered can prevent major headaches down the road.
Appoint a go-to person within the company
Assign one person to be responsible for answering employee questions and liaising with the CRM vendor.
Provide comprehensive training
Too many organizations offer a single afternoon of training and then expect huge results. It doesn’t work that way. Getting the most out of CRM software requires that employees become truly fluent in the technology so that they can use it to its full advantage. This may require extensive training delivered over a period of months; however, that training will result in reduced errors and increased employee confidence.
Encourage people to use it
Getting maximum benefits out of any software requires that people actually use it. This isn’t as silly as it sounds. Many companies use CRM applications as just super-charged address books, but they are so much more than that. CRM software that is integrated with sales and accounts, operations and logistics, and other departments provides much more information, and much more functionality, than CRM software that is used just for customer service.
Track as much customer and account information as you can—ideally, the knowledge base software should be used to track all of your company’s customer interactions. Providing incentives is an excellent way to encourage increased use.
Even minor problems and frustrations, like having to click through too many screens, can cause employees to stop using the software. Especially during the first phase of launch in your business, take the time to identify and fix any recurring problems your employees may be encountering.
Use the data
Finally, the data stored in CRM software is only meaningful to the extent that it is used (otherwise, what’s the point of collecting it?). Reports and analytics can be used to inform marketing decisions, identify new opportunities, make sure no customers fall through the cracks, streamline the sales process, and much more.
CRM is more than just a way of keeping track of customer email addresses and phone numbers. Used correctly, it can provide a comprehensive platform for keeping track of all of your company’s customer- and business-related activities. But, like anything else in life and business, you only get out of it what you put into it. Fortunately, with CRM software, a small investment of time, energy, and training can result in huge gains in productivity and profitability.