12.01.20154 min read

How to Implement CRM Software: 5 Rules

Anytime you bring a new piece of software into your business, it’s like adding another child to your family. You’re going to give it a lot of attention to the new software. Maybe a little too much. It’s going to exhaust you, keep you up at night and probably frustrate you beyond reasonable belief. But once you get into a routine, the joy comes. That’s not to say there won’t still be some bumps and bruises, but when you know your CRM software like you know your three-month-old baby, the issues seem less intense. To get into a routine quicker though, you need some guidance. A What to Expect When You’re Expecting CRM, if you will. Instead of a book full of advice that horrifies and paralyzes you though, just take these five rules to heart before and during your implementation.

1. Track ONLY the Important

A newly integrated CRM system has the potential to lure complication into your business. Odds are, you knew what you wanted to track before you purchased a system. Write it down. There is something tempting about an empty contact profile.  It makes you feel like you need to track your contact’s favorite color and hair length.  Avoid the temptation to collect and record intelligence that is of no importance to your business.

2. Develop a Smart Tagging System

Categorize with purpose. It is crucial for making your system work. The reason why you are doing this is to organize information. If you don’t have a plan for how you will tag or label your contacts, CRM falls apart before it begins. If you run a small veterinarian office, you probably want to know if your patients own a cat or a dog. If you only tag by the breed – poodle, calico, maltese – sending an informative email to all dog owners about a valley fever outbreak is likely going to be laborious. Know the who, how, when and why of your contacts and form a system around that.

3. Don’t Isolate CRM

Some CRM systems are just that. They are a place to manage customer relationships. But if you intend to use your contact organizing efforts for anything other than data collection, you need a system that can interact with other business functions. If you want to automate how you send emails to certain contacts, you’re going to need a system that either contains or allows for integration with an email marketing platform.

4. Keep it Uniform

There should be a template for what every contact profile should look like. In the same way you need a plan for tagging, you need a plan for profile information. Random entries and flippant inclusions can throw off the feng shui of your system. You can have different templates for different types of contacts. For example if you want leads to have different information captured than customers, that makes perfect sense. Just make sure you’ve mapped out exactly what that looks like. This will also help ensure that if you train someone new on your system, they can easily follow and adapt.

5. Think Small in a Big Way

While you don’t want to collect irrelevant details, you want to make sure you are including the small details that can make a big deal for your business. If you’re a veterinarian, it may be important to notate the demeanor of your patients’ owners. While you likely won’t market to this behavior, knowing your customer doesn’t like it when you touch Miffy’s ears is a detail easily forgotten by everyone except your customer. Furthermore, every interaction with your customer should be notated in the CRM. They may sound inconsequential, but a few must track items are:

  • Every email sent, call made or voice mail left
  • Every in person visit
  • Every appointment made

Knowing how and when you touch base with your customer is, arguably, the whole point of your CRM software. Try to recall all the “oh no, I totally forgot” moments in your customer dealings and odds are, those need to be entered into a CRM. Small businesses deal with information overload on a second-by-second basis. You are the end-all-be-all of your business, which means you can’t always be on point for customer management. But that doesn’t mean you abandon the effort to be personal and connected. It just means you need a little help keeping track and organizing. Making sure you are prepared with strategy and expectations for your CRM implementation will help make sure you get the most out of it.

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