When you no longer can call it ‘My Business’

“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”
― Katharine Hepburn

How streamlined business processes contribute to a successful CRM project.

I hope you all had an excellent Easter, and as usual, ate too much chocolate.

When starting a CRM project, I often had to disappoint my clients with the message “Processes first’. In this blog, I would like to elaborate a bit more on this, in specific for growing businesses.

Having worked on ERP & CRM projects in large organisations for many years, I never really thought about it in this way and now realise I was quite ignorant. Being large means things are more complex, more people get involved to deliver the same output (product) and you simply cannot survive without being organised, without have systemised processes in place.

When I founded EngageSelect CRM and now work with SME’s, this all changed. People gradually start to realise “I no longer can do this alone” and need to start getting organised with systems. However, often people forget that a system without processes is like a car without a well working engine. It won’t get you far and implementing CRM without streamlined processes just might feel like ending up with an empty box of chocolates.

A CRM perspective

To give you a perspective, companies such as Salesforce and Hubspot are doing very well in building a solid brand and know how to deliver their messages. At the same time, it also gets many small businesses stuck with the complexity of it all, whether they can afford the system, and how to get started with CRM.

The big CRM vendors are trying to capture this (with the purpose of winning more business) by offering small business an affordable, out of the box CRM solution. These out-of-the-box solutions with data import templates are easy to implement, however, the big question is whether such as standard and simplified (but also limited) solution is ticking all the boxes and fits your key business functions and your (unique) processes?

On a side note, when choosing to go this way these small businesses often get locked in with a big vendor, having to pay the BIG price when it becomes time to upgrade.

To be honest, this makes me sad, while there are so many solutions on the market, tailored for SMEs and have unique functions and tailored processes.

“CRM systems and processes, but I would like to put it the other way around”

There is a reason ‘Systems and Processes’ are used in the one phrase, they don’t go without each other. The idea of implementing a CRM system does not mean you automatically will see your bottom line improve. You cannot ignore the people and processes driving it all.

As soon as you proudly realise it is no longer just your Business, but is becoming an ‘Organisation’, you need to get serious about getting organised. Let’ be frank, that is where the work ‘organisation comes from, and with this, also means having the Processes, Systems and People in place to do the growing amount of work to be delivered

Business processes are a series of linked tasks, with defined starting points, that lead to the delivery of a service or a product.

Thinking in processes doesn’t always come that naturally to everyone, and how to find the time to discuss and document these processes, while trying to meet the customer demands? Documenting your internal processes is like paperwork, and paperwork can be boring! We rather focus our efforts on generating more sales and increasing revenue.

So, when discussing the process of selecting or implementing a CRM, I had to disappoint many businesses with my message ‘People and Processes first’.

The good news is that documenting your onboarding, marketing, sales, service and delivery processes and workflows doesn’t have to be that complicated when done as part of the CRM journey.

Workflows are a series of steps or events that produce a desired result. They delineate the steps, the resources (such as staff or equipment) and their interactions

It becomes more like a logical process, for example by following the customer journey, all the touchpoints, tasks to be completed, the hand offs and milestones.  Followed with prioritising them based on the experience and value they are adding for all the parties involved (employees, partners, customers, suppliers). Or, you can start with listing the bottlenecks, pain-points, time-wasters, whatever you want to call them, look at the root causes and how you can prevent or improve them by implementing more streamlined processes, better collaboration.

Once this is done, you are ready to incorporate this into a CRM system, where people ‘step-by-step’ will be able to complete the daily activities, collaborate as a team and have a single source of customer information.

When you are clear on your future state processes, it will also be an excellent source to evaluate the CRM system that will be a right fit, given this information is vital for CRM vendors to provide you a more tailored demo. You will be able to make an informed decision. At a later stage, it will be useful in getting help with the training and onboarding process, as well as monitoring quotas and KPIs.

Where does the expert come in?

To do all this in the most effective way, you might need help from an expert who understands the CRM system fundamentals and can explain the opportunities the CRM can offer you to improve efficiencies, process improvements and better outcomes.

If you currently lack the full understanding or the time to accomplish this, contact us to discuss how EngageSelect can help. We can support you on the full journey, and also will teach your people about the opportunities CRM can bring along, with the overall aim to improve the bottom line.

‘Processes are like your relationships, you need to work on it, constantly. At the same time, we won’t do well without them.

If this article was useful for you, my next blog will cover “CRM and business process improvement (BPI)’. Without getting into more detail on the importance of Business Improvement, to increase your bottom line, I can tell you right now that:

  1. A CRM is only going to work well for your people if the daily activities and tasks are ‘naturally and fluently’ build into your CRM.
  2. Without well structured and understood Sales and Service processes that are adopted by your people and able to provide a consistent message to your customers, a CRM is probably NOT going to deliver the desired outcomes.
  3. You need to ask yourself the question: Will a CRM without automated workflows (supporting us to automate repetitive tasks, tasks that can be outsourced) work for my growing business? Be selective when choosing your CRM, make sure it going to work for your people, short-term as well as long-term.

Do you think it is time to take your Process Improvements serious? Contact us to discuss how we can help you to streamline your processes and systems. We focus on the CRM part of it, however, have great partners who can support you in many different areas.

Conclusion

“A CRM solution brings together all your customer information in a single, integrated platform that enables you to build a customer-centred business from marketing right through to sales, customer service and business analysis. This gives you a more complete understanding of your customers to drive your business’s success” (source: salesforce – the biggest but not always greatest for your specific needs)

Streamlined business processes can contribute to a successful CRM project.

  1. Organised data

It’s important to understand up front what kind of data needs to be collected, how it should be labelled and organised, and what the processes for updating or changing data are. Having clearly established business processes can help you avoid the problem of incomplete or inaccurate data.

This helps avoid problems like having multiple entries for the same entity. It’s also important to be flexible to change, because as your CRM program matures, you might discover data necessities that you didn’t foresee. It’s best to address these changes structurally rather than using manual work-arounds, which can lead to bad data down the road.

  1. Putting business processes before technology

CRM is no different than other software categories. Thinking that the technology is a silver bullet will get you nowhere. The best approach is to establish and implement business processes before even thinking about a technology solution.

Once the business processes are in place, finding and implementing the right solution is much easier. Otherwise, you might overpay for a solution that provides unnecessary functionality, or spend valuable resources implementing the solution without using its potential.

Ways how CRM will help you to improve your business processes

Down the road, when your people will be using the CRM system, there will be ways that CRM can improve business processes and transform your business, resulting in increased profitability and customer satisfaction. For example, a 360-degree view of the customer it will enable your people to provide real-time responses to customer problems, improve the sales productivity and predict customer behaviour.

Ultimately, what should really change business performance are the behavioural changes in your people and the process improvements enabled by the CRM system.

Would you like to find out more, follow our blog or contact us to discuss your CRM needs

Ways how CRM will help you to improve your business processes

Down the road, when your people will be using the CRM system, there will be ways that CRM can improve business processes and transform your business, resulting in increased profitability and customer satisfaction. For example, a 360-degree view of the customer it will enable your people to provide real-time responses to customer problems, improve the sales productivity and predict customer behaviour.

Ultimately, what should really change business performance are the behavioural changes in your people and the process improvements enabled by the CRM system.

Would you like to find out more, follow our blog or contact us to discuss your CRM needs