CRM Consulting FAQ

Updated: April 30, 2009

Do I really need a consultant?

Chances are, the answer is yes. Unless your staff has free time and hands-on experience with the solution your company is implementing, you should hire a consultant who knows the software well and can help you get the best configuration for your business.

This will free up your staff to spend its time doing what it does best, without causing regular projects to lag behind. Plus, the consultant can save you the headache of trying to figure out the solution in-house , or worse, realizing too late that you have wasted time and need someone to come in and clean up the system after the fact.

What skills should a good consultant have?

Just because you've found a great consultant doesn't mean that you've found the right consultant to hire for your systems-integration project. CRM systems come with a wide range of features and tailored configurations, so you should find a consultant that already has extensive experience in your industry and with the type of solution you need. Of course, you'll want to find someone who also has a proven track record installing the system for other businesses.

To start with, you should evaluate your company's specific needs . Then, make sure you ask the right questions to verify that the consultant has the right skills . Check that the person you're negotiating with is the person or team leader for the installation that's going to be performed. Otherwise, you could end up with a whole different team from the same company that doesn't really have the skills you need.

What can the consultant do?

The consultant won't just come in and plug in a new system. A good consultant will do much more, such as expand on the initial evaluation of your business's systems. The consultant can help review what changes are needed, chart a plan for a transition, demonstrate new functionalities, and advise you about the risks and impact of the switch to the new systems. He or she can also help advise on the vendor or system to choose if your company hasn't decided yet.

Once you've set the plan, the consultant should be able to implement and configure the system appropriately for your business needs and help your employees transition to the new system.

Providing this training for your call agents and supervisors is critical in making sure that the new technology is adopted, embraced and used to its utmost potential . Remember: If you put in an expensive new system but your staff doesn't use it, it's not worth the money. So make sure that you're getting the buy-in from your call staff, as well as upper management, before you put in a new system or upgrades.

Should I ask the consultants for references?

By all means, get a list of the consultant's past clients. Make sure that they are all recent clients, and ask them enough questions so that you're satisfied that the consultant will provide the right kind of service, meet your milestones and implementation deadline, and give you the right kind of support.

What else do I need to know about a CRM implementation project?

You might be hiring a consultant for a one-off project, but CRM is anything but a project that gets finished and put on the back burner. Your consultant needs to know your company's business strategies and goals, as well as what your primary concerns are for your call center .

When the program is installed and integrated with your existing systems, it's going to be used every day by your staff to make the most out of customer interactions, so make sure that the installation takes that usage into account. CRM isn't just about systems — it's a philosophy for interacting with your clients to make sure that they're happy and that they keep coming back to use your products and services.

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