99 ways to get more from your CRM software in 2013 – part two

by Richard Boardman on January 18, 2013

Following on from the first installment earlier in the week, the next 25 ideas that may help you get more from your CRM system in 2013:

26. Go mobile – there’s an ever increasing range of client options for smart phones and tablet devices. These can give staff better access to data when they’re out on the road, as well as the opportunity to update the system on the move. Providing these capabilities to those that need them can help improve performance and productivity.

27. Analytics – the ‘out of the box’ reporting capabilities may not provide the management information you need. Using third party analytics packages may be the secret to unlocking the potential of your data.

28. Track entertaining – with increasing regulation around business entertaining, the CRM system can be helpful in tracking where your entertaining budget is being spent, and how well expenditure aligns with your high potential customers and prospects.

29. Telephony integration – integrating the CRM and telephony systems can help improve customer service by automatically popping up the relevant contact record when they call in, avoiding the need to search the system to find their details. It can also aid data capture by automatically logging the details of both incoming and outgoing calls.

30. Internal collaboration – enterprise social collaboration tools such as Salesforce.com’s Chatter, and Microsoft’s Yammer, can help your teams work together more effectively on customers, projects, and opportunities.

31. Managing pre-sales resources – scarce pre-sales resources can sometimes be allocated to the person who shouts loudest rather than to the area of greatest opportunity. CRM can be a great place to provide more structure around this process, and help ensure that resources are allocated to the areas of greatest potential.

32. Check your data hygiene processes are understood – if an email bounces, a mailing piece is returned, or a customer contact leaves, do all users understand how they should be recording this in the system? The answer for many organisations is no. Taking the time to define data hygiene policies, communicate them, and checking they’re being implemented can significantly boost the quality of your data.

33. Review how you support your processes in the system – I often get clients to show me how they use the system to support their business processes. Invariably I can spot ways to cut down on key strokes or unnecessary data entry to make things quicker. Taking the time to analyse whether there’s a quicker way of doing things can have a big impact on productivity.

34. Track customer products – which of your products or services are your customers using? It might seem obvious, but it’s not information that’s always readily available in the CRM system. Ensuring this data is accessible though can improve customer support, and increase the potential to cross-sell other products and services.

35. Track competitor products – what products are your competitors providing to your customers and prospects?  Tracking useful information such as purchase dates, products specifications, and contract end dates can be a great source of future leads.

36. Do you have a trained administrator? – a well-trained system administrator can drive up user adoption, and reduce the reliance on expensive external resources, so making an investment in administration training can have a rapid payback.

37. Bring customer support into the system – a lot of organisations use a separate customer support system. With the inbuilt helpdesk/case management tools becoming increasingly sophisticated in many CRM packages, consolidating the support function within the CRM system can help improve the visibility of key customer data and reduce the cost of running two systems.

38. Provide offline access – with many CRM applications providing users with the ability to operate ‘off-line’ and synchronise their data later, setting this up for those that need it can have a big impact on productivity when travelling or where internet access is patchy or unpredictable.

39. Use marketing automation tools – marketing automation tools allow you to monitor a prospect’s interactions with your web site, set up automated lead nurturing campaigns, and identify leads that are sales-ready. Many of these packages have integrations with CRM applications, and can help you focus your resources on the most promising opportunities, particularly if you have high lead volumes.

40. Clean your data – Your data may look up to date, but when was it last validated? Use internal resources or an external telemarketing agency, to check contact details are still current and update them as required.

41. Complaint tracking – Do you have a process for managing customer complaints? For many organisations it’s informal, or held outside the CRM system. Tracking and managing customer complaints within the CRM application can increase the visibility of issues to customer facing staff, and allow better reporting of incidents to help organisations take proactive actions to address the root causes of problems.

42. Internal lead capture – it’s not just the sales and marketing team that come across sales leads. Many different staff members may come into contact with customers and prospects and spot new opportunities. Having the ability for them to log them quickly and easily will ensure that a much greater proportion of these are passed on to those best able to action them.

43. Make opt outs more granular – prospects and customers may opt out of receiving communications, but not necessarily all communications. For example, they may not want to receive the newsletter but may still want to be invited to seminars. Many systems are set up in a binary way. You receive all or no communications. Consider adjusting the system so that contacts can opt in and out of different communication types. This avoids unnecessarily removing people from communications they would still like to receive.

44. Get data entry assistance – are there people that never update the system but should? Sometimes the most effective solution is to get them some help. For example, one client has a simple but effective approach of a bowl placed in reception for staff to drop in business cards as they return from meetings. These are then input by the administration team. For those souls that can’t be persuaded to use CRM technology, giving them assistance may be a worthwhile last resort to ensure the valuable information they gather is retained.

45. Get feedback – what’s working well in the CRM system and what could be improved? Often those responsible for the system aren’t best placed to provide this feedback. Providing an easy means for front-line staff to identify potential changes and improvements can be the most effective way to help develop your system.

46. Review data capture – what data are you capturing? Is it the information you need? Are you capturing data you don’t use?  Reviewing what data is useful to you, versus what you actually gather, can reduce wasted effort and help you get what you need to target your resources more successfully.

47. Fill the gaps in your data – if you find there’s potentially useful data which you’re not currently tracking, jump start the process by approaching data providers to see if they’re able to fill the gaps.

48. Segment your customer base – different customers have different needs and varying degrees of value and potential for growth. Defining different approaches to managing different customer segments can be a very effective way of focusing resources in the most promising areas. The CRM system can be used to support this segmentation and help monitor that each customer segment is receiving the defined level of support.

49. Are you paying too much for support? – once upon a time support contracts were a pretty regulation 10% of the price of the software. In recent times the formulations have become rather more exotic and there can be huge variations in terms of how much companies pay for help desk support services. Going out to the market to look at other options can be a very effective way to drive down on-going costs.

50. Order management and fulfilment – while many businesses use their CRM system to track sales opportunities, fewer use it to manage the order process itself. The CRM system can be a very effective tool for managing orders and their fulfillment, particularly if there’s integration into the finance system. It can help reduce the administration time for each order and improve the quality of delivery. It also has the added benefit of encouraging sales people to record sales opportunities, thereby increasing forecast accuracy.

That’s the second batch (the first 25 can be found here), more to follow soon.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Matt January 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Great post. Especially agree with number 37 – bringing in customer support. I think this is absolutely essential for a modern CRM system. You get good customer information that can be used by the marketing team as well as the support team initially. 41 is a good point too – if a customer makes a complaint it is essential for the whole business to understand their grievance so as to be sensitive to it.

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