4 Things to Do if Your CRM Stalls Short of True ROI

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You’ve invested a great deal of time and energy (and likely a small fortune!) in getting your company CRM environment set up and in production. You’ve migrated and uploaded your data, worked with internal staff and external vendors to ensure the business flow is accurately architected, purchased licenses, and worked with your users to make sure everyone is trained on how to the use system. 

Unfortunately, even after all of this work, your CRM system is still functioning as little more than a glorified contact list! Your solution has fallen short of the investment you’ve put into it, and you need to figure out what steps you can take to leverage the true power of your CRM. You must make sure your investment of time and money has been a valuable one.

Here are some steps you can take to immediately improve the value of your CRM solution—and enable it to eventually return the investment on time and money that you’ve put into it.

1. Harness the marketing power of your CRM. Your contact and account lists are sitting in CRM, and unless you are actively marketing to these lists, they are simply collecting electronic dust. Customer outreach and communication works to grow your business and solidify relationships, and with very little effort you can create highly effective email marketing campaigns straight out of your CRM platform. There are many solutions that allow you to create a templated look and feel, target a list of recipients, and track how your campaign is doing. The greatest source of potential business is from existing customers, and an ongoing automated digital dialogue is a simple, effective way to quickly see your return on your investment from your CRM system. Every company using CRM should be using the marketing capacity of their platform on a regular basis. 

2. Leverage workflow automation and system integration tools. When you invoice a customer in CRM, why not automatically post that invoice to your ERP system? When you receive a payment in QuickBooks, why not automatically track that payment in CRM? When an employee account is created in CRM, why not automatically trigger a notification and workflow for your HR department to complete the employee on-boarding process? Working to eliminate costly, time-consuming manual steps that introduce errors and delays can be automated through a variety of techniques in your CRM system. If you aren’t using workflows, business process flows, business rules, and automation in your CRM, you are missing out on some highly valuable cost-saving functionality. 

3. Mine your data through reporting and analytics. What is the average amount of income across customers in a specific region?  How many of your customers return to do business with you within an 18-month period? How can you quickly find information and metrics about whatever you need to know about your business today. Understanding how to access and present the data stored in your CRM system is essential to improving your business intelligence. Static lists of accounts and contacts and simple views into orders, products, and invoices are core functionality to any system, but to truly see value from your CRM solution, you’ll need to look at creative ways to report on and analyze your data. Charts, internal reports, external dashboards, exports to data warehouses for advanced analytics—these are all important options for greatly increasing the value of the data within your CRM environment.

4. Understand how others are utilizing CRM. Understanding the latest trends in how businesses are capturing and presenting data, how internal and external users are interacting with that data (such as via mobile apps and custom portals), how data extraction and integration is taking place, and how marketing campaigns are being managed and utilized is essential to maximizing your own CRM platform. Staying abreast of these trends can happen by reading and through research, but more importantly it happens by talking with implementation experts who are actively working in the field with a variety of industries and markets. Having a trusted technology adviser outside of your organization that can help guide you in ways to improve the systems that you’ve invested in is a wise investment that will lead to years of continued gains on the return of your investment in CRM.

Generally speaking, money invested in software systems will return to you as long as you know how to leverage your chosen platform. Your CRM implementation should be no different. Whether you are utilizing only the bare minimum functionality, or you have spent several million dollars on a highly customized environment, you need to look at what you have and make sure you understand how to get the most out of it. Read, experiment, talk with experts, and continue to invest—don’t stop just before you’ve seen true ROI with your CRM implementation!

Mark Beckner, an enterprise solutions expert with more than 20 years of experience, is the founder of Inotek Group, which specializes in business strategy and enterprise application integration with a focus in health care, CRM, supply chain, and business technologies. For more information, please visit www.inotekgroup.com.

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