How to incorporate a CRM to your business

By Sheila Shanker
Updated: September 01, 2011

A Customer Relationship Management system, also known as CRM, focuses on customer needs with the goal of improving sales numbers. The idea is that the more you know and understand about your customer, the better off you are to provide them with what they need. You can buy such systems to help with customer support, appointments, marketing and analytical.tasks. CRM systems can be complex, and incorporating it to your business may pose functional and technical challenges. Most of the CRM sold these days are industry-specific, which should help in the incorporation process.

Below are some ideas to make integration easier:

Users involvement from the get-go – even before you purchase a CRM system, make users part of the decision process. For instance, if you’re buying a customer service setup, have the manager and others involved in this area give you information and feedback over the best system for your needs. Integrating a new program is much easier when users feel a certain ownership towards it.

Identify what is done already and what needs to be performed – communicate with provider and your own IT person to be sure of the system compatibility with existing setup. If the idea is for accounts receivable in accounting to be linked to the CRM system, is it done? If not, what would it take to make those two programs connected? Obtain a timeline on all issues involving integration and follow up on it.

Review your existing policies and procedures – they may be obsolete and work against your new set up, especially if this is a new CRM system and the firm never had one – functionalities may exist now that were not available or were not very efficient then. Existing policies and procedures may need to be modified or new ones created to reflect this system

Be sure that all appropriate personnel is trained on the system – this is crucial for the CRM system to function at its best and to be incorporated into the business processes. Once individuals understand the system, its advantages and how it will help them in their daily tasks, they’re more likely to embrace the new setup and use it. Consider training not only for existing employees, but for future ones as well.

A CRM system usually doesn’t come in cheap, and you should make sure to use it well, taking advantage of all functionalities and integration points. However, be aware that integration may create security issues that must be addressed. There is a risk in sharing too much information and this issue should be in the back of your mind as you integrate this system

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