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11 Steps To Plan Customer Relationship Management

I’m sure you’ve come across this type of scenario in various guises: you’re sitting with a member of your team under pressure to do something ground-breaking to catalyse direction, achieve results, and make customers happier. The situation can go one of two ways: coordinated action, or deliberation.

This experience is demonstrated in this dialogue snippet from the 1990 sci-fi film, Tremors. The protagonists are desperately trying to come up with a new plan while the girl, Rhonda, has an idea on how to evade the graboid. She is waiting for the two male cohorts, Earl and Val, to step off of a rock.

‘Earl: You know, we’re gonna have to come up with some sort of plan or he’s going to wait us to death.
Rhonda: Yeah, well I was thinking…
Val: Why don’t we just make a run for it? We outran him yesterday.
Earl: Run for it? Running’s not a plan. Running’s what you do when a plan fails.’

It’s far better to brainstorm to get a plan going, even a short term one. A better and more intelligent way to enhance customer sales and interact with them these days is to employ a suitable CRM system. Yet how can a business person navigate from A to Z with CRM?

Here’s a simple 11 step plan to CRM which will achieve long term value:-

1. Build a Project Team
A recommended CRM project team will include an executive sponsor, project manager, CRM admin, and key users.

2. Define your CRM Vision
Set high-level goals for your strategy. This may include better reporting, shorter sales cycles, converting more marketing leads, and improved customer retention

3. Prioritise Your CRM goals
Know what your CRM dreams are and plot them in writing. Plan in a phased approach for quick wins, so that there is something to check against and the vision is becoming reality in a nurtured, well resourced and viable manner.

4. Define your processes
Review your processes to assess how they’ll be managed by a CRM application. Are the processes fit for what your purpose is or do they need to be overhauled or replaced with a leaner, more agile process? Doing this audit and inventory now will pave the way for smoother and tangible CRM gains.

5. Consider Reporting Output
Confirm the criteria that you want your CRM system to measure. Think about the type of reports, charts, and dashboards you’ll need to track progress. These will enable better insights, provide a case for future efficiencies and a powerful way to interpret areas for improvements at a glance.

6. CRM Fields and Data
Confirm what data you need to track on each CRM record including contacts, sales opportunities, support cases, campaigns leads, and any other relationship and process that need to be managed.

7. Prepare Data
What data needs to be imported to your new CRM system? How clean is it? If you’re importing history how far do you want to go back? What type of records will be imported in addition to contacts and companies?

8. Integrating CRM
Which applications will your CRM application need to integrate with? What level of data integration is needed with other data sources? This may include read-only access, 1-way sync or 2-way sync, order processing, and website integration.

9. User Access and Security
How will CRM data be shared among teams? Consider what level of access each user role should have. Do any permissions need to be withheld e.g. export to Excel, or access all records?

10. Identify The Risks
These days there is very little room for failed business process and technology projects. Assess the biggest risks to your project, and take steps to mitigate these threats. Threats can exist in the form of application functional gaps and deficiencies; a lack of appropriate technical skills in the user organisation; data problems systems performance challenges, and poor application UIs.

11. Create A User Adoption Strategy
Poor user adoption is the No.1 cause of CRM pain. Consult key users for ideas at an early stage and stimulate interest. Secure visible CRM commitment from managers who are leading and the board level. Nominate a CRM go-to person in each department, and give users the benefit of more than just a generic training session. Conduct frequent audits and make adjustments, provide good educational resources and celebrate successes small and large.

In this manner, you can breathe a sigh of relief, and walk your way towards those desired goals – instead of running.

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