7 CRM Best Practices to Get the Most out of your CRM.�

83% of online shoppers need help from customer support representatives before they can complete a purchase. Given the importance of providing effective customer service, it’s no wonder that so many businesses are choosing to invest in customer relationship management (CRM).

CRM is a class of software tools that allow organisations to keep track of the personal information, purchase history, progress, preferences, and all other information associated with every one of your prospects, and to make that information available and accessible from a single, central location. However, the technology that makes up CRM will only take you so far.

If you want your CRM solution to be effective, you need to focus on important CRM best practices. In this guide, we outline seven tips to help you get the most out of your CRM.

Choose a CRM that fits your needs.

Not every CRM is created equally, and if you choose a CRM without properly researching its capabilities (and its weaknesses), then you might end up committed to a system that is unsuitable for your business. Do you want something that operates via the cloud, or one that is located on-site? Would you prefer a CRM that requires a service contract, or one that costs more upfront to install? Does your organisation need in-depth, highly customisable features, or will basic functionality suffice? Take your time and weigh all your options and know what you need before you make any final decisions.

Train your workforce well.

Few would argue against the obvious benefits of using CRM. In fact, Nucleus Research has concluded that on average investment returns for CRM systems range from $5.60 to $8.71 for every dollar spent . On the other hand, if you fail to properly educate your employees on how to use CRM, then the entire tool becomes little more than an expensive filing system. When implementing your CRM training, focus on helping your employees understand the information being presented. Test your employees on what they have learned and provide periodic retraining and testing to ensure that everything is being retained.

Lay down some rules.

CRM is only as effective as your business allows it to be. If your workforce isn’t using it to its full potential, or if they are misusing it, then the CRM will be unable to perform its functions properly. Establish a list of rules relating to the use of CRM, so that everyone who works with it is on the same page. Make it company policy that every new lead, without exception, be processed through the CRM. By enforcing the correct use of the CRM system as soon as it is established, you’ll be able to guarantee a smoother transition, as well as a more-unified team.

Rely on automation.

CRMs are designed to help your business, by doing most of the heavy lifting when it comes to your customer relationships. This means that many of the tasks associated with data entry can be automated. Take advantage of this automation wherever possible; not only will it decrease the chances that an error will find its way into your system, but it will also free up your employees from wasting valuable time on menial, repetitive tasks.

Focus on collaboration.

A major benefit that CRM has over traditional systems is its potential for improving cooperative efforts. By making the same information accessible across various departments, CRMs promise to do away with the confusion that often results from having too many “cooks in the kitchen.”
According to 2012 Global Customer Service Barometer, 26% of consumers have experienced being transferred from agent to agent without any resolution of their problem , which leads to customer frustration and lost revenue. With CRM, whether a customer is speaking with one salesperson, a different salesperson, an IT professional, or anyone else in your organisation, everyone involved will have access to the same programs and up-to-the-minute information that they need to help provide the best customer service possible. This means that intracompany collaboration will have the same continuity and efficiency as it would if it were being handled by a single employee.

Mine the data.

CRMs are designed to capture and organise massive amounts of data. The problem is that many organisations don’t bother turning that data into anything actionable. The best CRMs are those that come with built-in analytics features, which use advanced programming to mine all the captured data, and to use that information to produce valuable conclusions which can be used to inform future business decisions. If you fail to properly analyse the data that your CRM procures, then all that valuable information is doing little more than taking up storage space.

Keep it simple.

When first encountering the myriad of CRM options currently available, you might be tempted to invest in something that is more complex than you need. Be careful and remember that the best CRM is the one that most perfectly fits your needs. Don’t go out of your way for a CRM that has features you’ll never use; instead, choose something that is uncomplex while still being effective. This will help ensure that your team takes full advantage of the CRM, without getting bogged down with unnecessary features.
Above all, be willing to make changes to your CRM policies where necessary. The effectiveness of day-to-day operations will be your best indicator of whether the CRM is performing to expectations, and if it is not, then how it could be improved. CRM is an amazing new technology, and it is revolutionising the way that businesses interact with customers, but unless you are willing to do your part to integrate CRM into your business in the best way, then it’s not going to make much of a difference in the long run. The technology exists to help you make the most out of your customer relationships, but if you fail to use it correctly, then those relationships aren’t going to translate into profits.
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