The best customer relationship management (CRM) software can get you closer to your clients, unlock intelligence on your history with them, and ensure they receive a consistently excellent experience. While any decent CRM software should automate as much data collection as possible, any progress made with a value-driving CRM can still be undone by poor company practices or strategic decisions.
Here are five of the most common mistakes CRM users make – and some advice on how to avoid them.
- Poor data entry
Sub-optimal data entry processes represent a problem for CRM users. Too often, people perceive data as something to feed into a system like logs into a woodchipper: they don’t consider how others in the company might use it. This can affect a user’s ability to access vital client information on demand, which can, in turn, affect their relationships with these clients.
To avoid this, communicate to your colleagues the importance of presenting and organising the information they upload to your CRM in clear, concise, and decipherable fashion. Make sure everyone’s inputting the same correct data, using the CRM the same way and ultimately deriving the same value from it. When an employee has to interpret what, for all intents and purposes, looks like gobbledygook during a major client call, they won’t be able to do their best work – and it’s not the software’s fault.
- Using CRM as a spamming agent
Bulk-email functions are tremendously useful, but sending the wrong messages to the wrong people isn’t a shortcut: it causes a whole new set of problems, which invariably take longer to solve.
If you’re going to message people en masse, do so carefully, and make sure that your message is going to a relevant and receptive audience. The scattergun approach is likely to yield poor results: CRMs are at their best when they’re used to nurture personal relationships.
- Not giving your CRM a chance
We all become frustrated with technology from time to time. But you and your company have invested in the CRM system for a reason, and if you’re having difficulty with it in the early going, be patient. Its implementation will likely have involved setting up new internal processes – and staff can be resistant to change.
You need to regularly catch up with your team in the early days following implementation to ensure any workflow problems are quickly identified and addressed. Before you realise it, your new process will be second nature and everyone will wonder how they lived without the kind of customer intelligence a good CRM provides.
- Thinking it’s a big business tool
If you’ve worked in a corporate environment before, you might have certain preconceptions about the kind of company a CRM is best suited to. It’s worth dispelling these as soon as possible. While certain systems may complement the needs of larger organisations, others will more easily meet the requirements of SMEs.
If you think it’s going to need endless technical management and maintenance, it won’t: cloud-based systems require little-to-no input from your company, so in practical terms, you won’t have to think about it all that much. And because they’re billed on a per-user basis, your company won’t have to buy a bunch of licenses that it doesn’t need, meaning you can shape the software to suit your business.
- Not using it to full effect
A good CRM isn’t just software, but a means of changing the way you and your company do business. When you treat it as a database, you’re not using it to its fullest potential. If your role involves working on the go – or if you simply want to work from the comfort of your home – the right software can give you full flexibility. When you need to watch the kids, prepare on the train in advance of a big client meeting, or work to your schedule instead of the usual 9-5, your CRM can help.
When key members of staff leave, it can give you total visibility into your past interactions with clients, as well as their preferences – for example, when they like to be contacted, and on what kind of device. This helps you hold on to your most vital business relationships as your internal team structure changes shape.
While it’s important to not write your CRM off, to enter data correctly, and to avoid spam, this last point is the most important. Now, more than ever, an effective business model depends on building effective relationships. Software is not the only way to cultivate them, but it certainly makes it considerably easier – if you let it.
There’s always going to be a learning curve, but when CRM is used correctly, it provides the opportunity to redefine the way your organisation operates. To waste this opportunity would be the biggest mistake of all.
By Peter Linas, International MD, Bullhorn