4 Steps for Implementing Your CRM Plan Today

Good intentions can take a company only so far; but sometimes they don’t always translate to action. So what happens when a business’s CRM falls flat?

A sloppy CRM strategy can mean low sales or worse, as a great customer experience is the key to successful brand interactions at every step of the sales cycle. But a systemized approach can help you overcome common CRM shortfalls by aiding idea development, encouraging advance planning, and tailoring efforts specifically to your business. Stick with this step-by-step game plan to put your customer-centric ideas to work, and you’ll never sweat CRM again.

Step 1: Adjust Your Focus

Sure, you want to improve as fast as you can. But let’s not put the cart before the horse. Moving too quickly toward CRM implementation can often do more harm than good. Instead of grabbing every idea at once and sprinting to the CRM finish line, adjust your focus for slow-and-steady effort toward a single target. This way, you’ll be able to put your best effort (and best people) toward implementing one concept at a time. A random, rapid-fire approach can often lead to failure in these situations, so be smart.

Step 2: Assess the Effects on Your Bottom Line

Before you move on, contemplate this question: Will this CRM idea positively influence your bottom line? If so, you’re safe to move on. If not, head back to Step 1 to pinpoint a different, more prosperous idea. Not only is this important at the beginning of your planning, but you should also make it a point to revisit this question several times throughout the process as you tweak your plan.

Step 3: Take Action

You’ve got your idea and you know it’ll help your bottom line. You’re almost ready to go. But first, there are a few questions left to answer.

What kinds of problems will this plan solve? (Double confirm it’s worth your time.) Who will own concept execution? (Make sure you’ve got the right team on the job.) How long it will take to see an impact? (Give yourself a realistic timeline.) Be sure to get these answers before you hit the gas or they could derail you along the way.

Answering the who-what-where-when-why-how of your CRM plan will give you a much better shot at getting it to work on the first try. Not only does it smooth out implementation, but it also promotes peace of mind among your team members.

Step 4: Appraise, Adapt, and Repeat

So, you’ve got your CRM plan moving. It’s now time to assess for success.

Be sure to keep track of every step in the process, looking for opportunities to fine-tune. Were you surprised at how well one step worked? Good. Highlight it as a key. Did part of the plan flop? That’s OK. Tag it for removal. Once your first plan is optimized for success, start from the top with another idea, utilize what you’ve learned, and watch your next idea grow. And don’t worry—even if your next CRM idea isn’t quite as successful as you had hoped, it doesn’t mean you can’t keep optimizing. Keep adapting until your process is perfect.

The Proof Is in the Pudding

So let’s talk focus on a real-life, concrete example. A few years back, we weren’t delivering the best service to consumers calling in to make claims on ProtectCELL plans. Cut to a bunch of brainstorming sessions and a laundry list of CRM improvement ideas, and we were in full fix-it mode.

The sessions were helpful and we came up with some fine ideas, but we knew we needed to press pause, take a minute, and focus on what was really the main issue. The answer? Our customer service reps didn’t have access to precise customer plan information, or they couldn’t access it in a timely manner. Pretty key, right?

Identifying this as the critical issue, we moved it to the top of the list and shelved other problems, ideas, and concepts to answer one question: how do we give our staff immediate and accurate access to specific customer plans, and not just a generic version of each plan?

We sought out a vendor that could connect our phone system with our CRM system, so that the necessary info would appear right on their screen in real time. To measure our success we focused in on two key metrics: call length and escalated calls. We knew the longer the customer stayed on the line and the more times we had to involve a manager, the more money we were losing, which connected the issue to our bottom line.

The results? Call times decreased, managers were needed on fewer calls, and our bottom line experienced a positive impact. With our new system in place, we went right back to the list of potential adjustments from before to pick out another and repeat the process.

Customer experience isn’t just about a smile on the other side of the checkout or a follow-up email; it’s the key to any successful business. The level of effort you put into keeping customers at the center of your business can ultimately make or break your company, and a strong CRM process can be a defining factor in your success. And while great CRM doesn’t happen overnight, there’s no better time to get started than today!


Scott McLaren is chief marketing officer for Fortegra Financial Corporation, a subsidiary of Tiptree Financial Inc. (NASDAQ: TIPT). Fortegra and its subsidiaries comprise a single-source insurance services provider that offers a range of consumer protection options including warranty solutions, credit insurance, and specialty underwriting programs. Delivering multifaceted coverage with an unmatched service experience for both partners and their customers, Fortegra solves immediate, everyday needs, empowering consumers to worry less and Experience More.

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