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What are the best practices for implementing CRM?

A well driven CRM strategy assists in enhancing the profitability from customers and boosting bottomline. It forms a foundation that helps to build businesses in an integrated manner and attains business goals systematically. At this point, it is critical to understand that there is no "Out-of-the-Box" CRM solution that is tailor-made to fit all the customer relationship management initiatives. Specific practices, that are suited to individual business situations are to be accessed in order to set the CRM strategy in the right direction.

There exist a number of best practices that are widely acknowledged in a business process to adopt an effective and efficient CRM strategy that can drive your organization towards the desired goal. Most of these best practices are applicable even in the context of a sluggish, yet improving economy. Nevertheless, one needs to pay attention to these practices and recognise them as a critical part of any kind of CRM strategy plan.

Top best practices for the implementation of a successful CRM: 

1. Know your own requirements first

Every organization, even within the same industry domain, can have different requirements. It’s important to evaluate one’s own objectives and desirability and have an exact idea of expectations.

2. Define success

Before implementing the project, have quantifiable targets for deployment. Higher sales numbers, greater customer satisfaction, higher customer retention, increase in productivity, better transaction experience; to name a few. Not all of these are measurable in absolute numbers, but the agenda should be to focus on these factors as well and they should also be measured up to define the success or failure of CRM. Having right parameters and metrics plays a critical role in CRM implementation.

3. Educate the organization

It’s not just the user who needs to be aware, but the entire organization needs to be prepared for the change and should be aware of the advantages of the system.

4. Take care of cultural change

An organization that has been running in a particular fashion for some time, might require a change in culture. The focus has to shift to being customer centric at all times and during all transactions.

5. Special focus on all customer touch points

It is not just face meetings or telephonic conversations, which are important. When talking about the overall experience; everything right from pitching the product, giving quotes, follow ups (both verbal and written), sales process, billing, references, becomes crucial. For achieving maximum impact this feature needs definite focus. What would also ensue alongside is high level of inter departmental co-ordination. In effect what this would make internal customers within the organization equally important.

6. Concentrate on strategy and practices

A CRM platform is all about the best practices implemented using appropriate tools. It is a known fact that in any CRM implementation the number of features actually used are not more than 50-60% of what is available in a CRM software. Hence, while evaluating it is critical to focus on your strategy and best practices you will need to implement the strategy. The software will only acts as an enabler. It is the practices that should drive the CRM software selection, rather than the software driving the practices.

Understand the profile of your user groups, customers and design processes to implement the best practices with respect to your organisation. Now check if the CRM solution has the capability to help you implement those practices.

7. Gather accurate information relating to your customers

It is very essential to design a CRM strategy that revolves around a thorough knowledge of your clients. You should ascertaining who your most profitable customers are. You should acknowledging their present as well as future requirements and choices. You should investigate the factors which lead to their satisfaction.

You should Understand the aspects which lead to your customers’ buying tendencies. By accessing this knowledge on customers, you can put in place the CRM strategy, in order to drive your processes in a very efficient manner and execute your strategy effectively. Also, it helps to ascertain that all your initiatives are dove-tailed and facilitate in enhancing the ROI.

8. Practice-led Implementation for your CRM platform

It is very important to have a strong CRM strategy, but when you pay no heed to proper implementation of your strategy, it may prove to be ineffective and all your best practices put through the CRM strategy can converge to a dead-end. In the process of implementing an efficient CRM solution, the ensuing aspects need special attention Effective planning and frequent revision of your processes is crucial to fit into the CRM strategy you adopt.

A cost benefit analysis of your business processes can throw insight into the pitfalls in the business process. Effective interaction with the concerned teams on the varied issues and an ability to address them with agility. Evolving smart processes in a systematic manner to locate and tackle issues. Comprehending the changing business requirements and shifts that are needed to steer the business processes in the right path.

9. Provide due recognition and acknowledge successful initiatives

Access regular feedback on your processes and try to modify your processes based on the feedback reports. Learning from failures and success to further drive business performance It is a common experience that some CRM initiatives may find success, while others may not. A sustained and upward trend in performance in a business can be accessed only through getting to know the mistakes committed and tracing back the indicators of success in your business processes. Such a learning experience can be gained through concentrating on the following aspects.

Understand the behaviour of the users in terms of their usage of the system. Quality of reports generated and their effectiveness in the decision making process. ROI of various initiative. Measuring achievement v/s targets for those initiatives. Provide the correct data to the right users, on a timely basis, to enable them to take actions. Create a system on knowledge management for the benefit of the workforce and equip them with skills on decision making initiatives.

10. User adoption is a critical factor

In a competitive world, involving your employees in the company’s CRM initiatives could assist in the long term, in offering an added edge in booting the morale of the employees, which in turn augments their sense of responsibility. Change management is a pre-requisite for the effective execution of a CRM strategy. Ground level experience, clubbed with novel initiatives, will result in creating a effective practices that are to be brought into the fold of the CRM strategy. On the contrary, failing to do so can lead to the breakdown of the CRM strategy implemented.  

In a nutshell, any organisation that can create an effective CRM strategy and implement it with a high impact CRM solution can create a long term competitve advantage. Through adopting the best practices, it is a wise proposition to invest in a CRM strategy, notwithstanding the adverse economic conditions, this will help the business to sustain and grow profitability.

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