Monday, June 17, 2013

What is the Best CRM Application?

I had the opportunity to share my thoughts this week in another forum about someone’s question about the best Contact Relationship Management (CRM) application available.  He was looking for suggestions, experiences, and alternatives.  This person had looked at some popular cloud solutions.  He liked and disliked the same feature, customization, for opposite reasons on a couple of different solutions.

As is the case in many postings he was not very specific and did not include a lot of details.  I shared my experience that acknowledged that a lot of people ask that question and it is not confined to just CRM applications.

A lot of people ask that question.

There are a lot of good software solutions both on premise and cloud based to choose from today.  That is the good news.  The bad news is that there are a lot of good software solutions to choose from.  Henry Ford may have had it right when he said: “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black.”

What is right for one organization does not necessarily mean it is good for another.  While most businesses operate similarly, each has some unique needs that are met better by one solution or another.

What we have found consistently, is that the solution that is most tightly integrated or is actually built into your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution is best, even if it has less features.  Minor tweaks to customize an integrated system are better than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

The efficiencies of having a unified database for suspect, prospect, customer conversion, reduced keying/rekeying, and reporting typically outweighs the latest bells and whistles.  Real information presented in real time is an asset to decision makers. 

The ability to aid customer service and marketing by post sales follow up enabled by an integrated system is a feature most stand alone CRM applications lack.  Most will help on the front end of the sales process (marketing), but because of the lack of integration few can help you be proactive in post sales (customer service).  For example, thank you for your recent order of… you may find these complementary items beneficial as our other customers have, here is a coupon for you next purchase, etc.

Automation and integration should be at the top of the list of core components when looking for a solution. 

Any solution.  You can have the most comprehensive system in the world, but if it takes too many steps, especially manual steps or is disconnected from your other systems, then the software has missed the mark for your organization.

People just seem to want what works.  People want and desire choices, but not so many that they cannot make up their mind.  People do not want to invest a lot of time and money on something that does not work.  Do not want to be embarrassed.  And especially do not want to lose their job.  People have limited time and resources.  Most are not educated enough to know what will and will not work.  Evaluation versions sound nice, but it can take more than a month’s time to figure out if a solution works. 

How many times do you want to convert and integrate your systems in a trial and error selection process?

This discussion is leading up to the advantage of investing in Trusted Advisor to help you in the process of software selection and process improvement.  No one wants to invest money on something they feel they can do themselves, but there are distinct advantages of doing so. 

Take for example, painting your house (inside or out).  It is not too hard; there are a few things to know and heck, you probably painted it before.  You also probably do not have the time to manage everything else you have to do now.  How much free time do you have?  Do you want to spend your vacation time painting your house or spend the time with your family?  Do you do a quick job that has to be repeated next year, or do you take your time and end up having no time for family? 

What compromises are you willing to make?

Granted there may be budget issues, but the advantage of an outsider’s view of your operations is a valuable asset in itself.  Then add in a knowledgeable person to oversee the conversion and implementation, the savings will add up.  Your people can concentrate on what they do best and be focused on what needs to happen to move forward as opposed to getting bogged down in unrelated tasks.  This does not mean that you have nothing to do.  It just means you can focus on what specifically needs to be done.

At Dolvin Consulting we work with industry experts so you can concentrate on what you do best.  Contact us today to learn what we do best and how it can save you a lot of aggravation.


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