Implementing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, particularly for small businesses, is not always easy. It’s a comprehensive process that, while ultimately benefiting your operations and customers in a variety of ways, can quickly become frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be. If you approach your CRM implementation strategically, you can ensure a successful process that ultimately benefits both your business and your stakeholders with minimal friction. To help in that process, here are 6 ways to prepare your small business for a CRM implementation. 1. Understand Your Goals As any strategic process, planning your implementation has to begin with goal setting. Exactly what do you want to get out of the new software? Try to stay away from general answers such as improving business practices, and get specific instead. Which processes could and should be automated? Which current problems do you face in interacting with current and potential customers? To succeed in this step, we recommend following the SMART goals framework. Each objective of the CRM implementation should be specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic, and set within a specific time frame. Only once you understand exactly what you are looking to get out of the software should you proceed with the implementation. 2. Examine Your Current Processes Implementing your CRM will likely include at least some process automation. A core reason why businesses take this step is to move away from manual outreach to potential and current customers, or hand recording of relevant information about this audience and their interactions with your brand. To ensure lasting success, examine what exact processes you are currently undertaking, and how they are structured. For example, you may send a weekly email newsletter to current customers with coupons and other loyalty-based promotional items. You may also have a lead nurturing strategy in place that helps you increase your contact-to-customer conversions. In the course of your CRM implementation, you can automate these processes, but only if you know exactly how they are constructed. Examine the processes you look to implement, in order to smoothen the project as it occurs. 3. Strategize Your Timing There is no perfect timing for a major software implementation. The long-term benefits of a CRM are significant, but that doesn’t take away from the resources and efforts you will need to get it up and running. There is, however, a least bad time for your implementation. Don’t start your project without first understanding when that time would be. For example, you would not want your employees occupied and sales systems down during the holiday season. Most businesses experience lulls in revenue, which tend to be great opportunities to divert resources that may be difficult to give up in the short term, but encourage long-term growth. You should also keep in mind the employees who will need to spend time on the implementation, and whether their time is needed elsewhere during your suggested frame. 4. Choose the Right Product A large part of your implementation preparation should be dedicated to finding the right […]
A business grows by expanding its customer base and keeping repeat customers. To do this, it has to keep track of leads, add new customers to its information base, and track their activity. This is what Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is for. The advantages of CRM A CRM system keeps all your information in one place, organized for easy access and analysis. You can see who your best customers are, what orders are pending, who’s behind in payment, and much more. You can update customers’ contact and shipping information as necessary. You can give them preferred status and select them for special offers based on their history, or flag them as having a poor payment record. If you’re working just from a spreadsheet, it isn’t easy to do all these things. The result is better customer communication and service. You can resolve issues more quickly and provide the information to employees as needed. If a customer has had a similar problem before, such as a delivery error, a record of past events can help to identify and fix it. Everything goes more smoothly with a good record of past transactions. Adding CRM to WordPress WordPress is the most popular tool in the world for creating business websites. Perhaps you’re already using a contact page on a WordPress site to hear from interested people. If you’re collecting the information into a spreadsheet or simple database, that’s a good start, but there’s a lot more you could be doing with it. Simple forms processing to collect contacts leaves you with a lot of work to do by hand. It works as long as your customer base is small enough, but as it grows, the job gets more difficult. Moving to a CRM system and connecting it up with WordPress saves effort and gives you more ways to use the information. When potential customers fill in a contact form, the information will go straight into the CRM. It can send an automated email response, refer the information to the appropriate department based on the request type, or add the prospect to an electronic or physical mailing list. If you have an e-commerce site under WordPress, you may be able to integrate it with CRM. This will let you update the customer’s order history and retrieve any special information about the customer. Plugins are available which provide CRM capability entirely within WordPress. Their functionality tends to be limited, so they’re best suited for very small businesses that want a little more than a spreadsheet. More serious businesses will want separate CRM. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Microsoft Dynamics is a popular and trusted family of CRM systems. It’s available in both on-premises and cloud versions, with pricing packages for businesses of all sizes. Both versions have rich feature sets, including: Customized reports Contact and lead management Sales partner management Analytic tools Role-based security Email integration It works easily with other Microsoft products. The Dynamics 365 bundle combines Dynamics with Microsoft’s ERP software and Office 365 […]
A chain of events has occurred over the last few years that has changed the world of business. Advancements in technology increased the pace of globalization. This, in turn, allowed businesses to gain consumer bases in far away places and allowed startups to have increased access to funding. More businesses began to pop up, and with this growth came a growth in consumer expectations. Customers expect more of the organizations they purchase from. When companies fail to deliver, customers leave. One of these customer expectations is a better relationship with brands. They want to be able to have access to the companies they buy from whenever they want, wherever they are. They want businesses to be more engaging and to provide more value to them. Due to this, the practice of improving the customer experience has become key. Revenue Without profits, businesses fail. There’s no way around it. And one solid truth that has emerged over the last few years is that when customer experience is focused on, revenue goes up. This has become widely accepted, with 41% of senior marketers saying that in terms of its impact on revenue, customer experience is second only to the product. Nearly three-quarters of consumers spend more when they experience good customer service. And even more consumers, 86% to be exact, openly express that they are willing to spend more for a better experience. But it’s not just about increasing revenue, it’s also about maintaining it. Without providing a positive customer experience, businesses are seeing severe drops in sales. 78% of consumers have opted out of making a purchase purely because they experienced poor service. The brands that lead in customer experience, see their revenue grow up to 8% above the rest of their competitors. One of the reasons for this above average growth is due to how companies, that put effort into the customer experience, respond when a customer isn’t pleased. When companies respond effectively and efficiently to bad customer experiences, they see customer spending increase by 30%. When they respond poorly, customer spending can decrease by up to 63%. Another reason for the additional revenue growth is because companies that see the value of investing in improving customer experience are concentrating efforts online–and they’re succeeding. 97% of consumers’ purchases are influenced by their online experience and 65% of consumers’ opinions about a brand have been changed by their online experience. Retention It’s expensive to bring in new customers. A company first needs to develop a marketing campaign. Then they need to identify leads, pursue them, and bring them through the customer journey. This takes time and money. In fact, when compared to keeping an existing customer, attracting a new one can cost seven times more. But it’s not just about holding onto customers, it’s also about keeping them happy. Strongly loyal customers have between six and 14 times more lifetime value than others. These figures should immediately shock organizations into maintaining current customers. And the best way to do that is […]
It’s here! The first look at Microsoft Dynamics 365 — the next generation of intelligent business applications in the cloud. Dynamics 365 uses artificial intelligence to re-imagine what’s possible for your business. Microsoft Dynamics 365 unifies CRM and ERP capabilities into applications that work seamlessly together across sales, customer service, field service, operations, financials, marketing, and project service automation. Start with what you need, add applications as your business grows.
Even small businesses can benefit from properly using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Learn five ways it can make a difference in your company today.