What is CRM – FAQ to our services

According to Google, as of 2014 there were approximately 33,000 monthly searches on the term CRM. We'd wager based on that there are probably a number of people who want to know what it is & more importantly for businesses how it can help them. Below are a number of frequently asked questions (FAQ's) with our answers, but if there's a question you have which isn't covered below, feel free to reach out and ask a question. We also have a blog that you can check out too.

What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management - at a high level this is the subject of how businesses interact with their customers but there's a lot more to it. In fact, you can split the phrase into two. On one half CRM covers the relationship a business has with its customers (establishing it, building it, establishing a two-way dialogue to drive value) but then the other half is about how that relationship, or customer rather is managed (communications, customer experience, metrics, expectations and value). The topic in itself has brought about 'CRM systems' being developed to help businesses manage their interactions with customers, and also a small army of analysts, consultants and specialist marketers to help businesses better run their business and increase customers.

How exactly can a CRM system help?

CRM systems can help perform the manual and repetitive tasks which fees up time for employees to focus on customers and driving value. Every business knows how long it can take to manually aggregate reports, then having to cross-check data to ensure accuracy...and that's before you even have time to look at the bigger picture and understand what the data is telling you so meaningful decisions can be made. Having a system frees up time, increases accuracy, and drives efficiency to support smarter business decisions if implemented right. That means happy employees, happy customers and happy shareholders.

What are the different options out there?

In recent years a number of large players have come out offering options for customer relationship management aimed at businesses. There's Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, SalesForce.com and others. We say others because there are a number of much smaller cloud based solutions available but in our experience these are usually so limited in functionality (or serve a specialist niche) that they offer a limited return on investment for most small to medium sized firms. Most of our clients opt to go with a Microsoft Dynamics solution due to relatively low costs and full integration with Microsoft's office software. We have worked with larger enterprises that use SalesForce.com but this is primarily as a front-end sales engine which feeds into other systems.

What's possible with CRM?

Many CRM solutions offer additional modules that can help it extend far beyond sales but also operations, financial tracking, reports, supply chain & service. What you can then do in terms of automation is almost unlimited - we usually work with clients to help build a business case linked to specific process improvements and business goals. Here is a very good video that provides a glimpse of what's possible:

I want to know how CRM can help my business - can we talk?

Absolutely. We're always happy to hear from small to medium sized businesses. Please use our contact form to arrange a free no-obligation consultation. You can also call us on: +44 20 3335 0176 or tweet @KStarAssociates.

If you would like us to analyse or review any data in advance of the meeting / call, we'll be happy to do so under NDA - just let us know when contacting us.

For those seeking specific packages, we offer the following which can be fully tailored:

> Initial workshop to align stakeholders & strategy

> Managing change & measuring KPIs

> Maximising performance: Build & Deployment

What's the initial workshop to align stakeholders & strategy?

This initial session sets the pace and tone for the rest of the engagement; it's critical to align all stakeholders so there is common agreement on the key issues within the organisation and the outcomes that need to be achieved. During the session we will map the current process landscape to understand how things are done, identify and isolate painpoints, optimise the process highlighting potential areas CRM can help. Our consultants are lean six sigma trained and we have in-house technical experts to help your business jointly come up with the best solution helping you move from issue to outcome.

We will work with nominated stakeholders to shape the session as needed tailoring it to your needs.

Specific outputs:

  1. Agreed problem statement
  2. As-Is process mapped with painpoints identified & proposed to-be solutions
  3. Key data, system touchpoints, KPIs and stakeholders defined
  4. High level roadmap

Tell me more about managing change and measuring metrics.

We can run a senior management session covering the likely impact of change on operations based on our understanding and experience as well as proactively planning how to mitigate risk to ensure the project is a success. We'll work to shape key training needs, support model and key roles within an overall governance model that we can help drive during the build phase. This will give management the confidence in managing change & minimising risk to business as usual operations during the project.

We also use the session to understand key reporting KPIs that need to be covered both by the CRM solution but also from a project management perspective to measure performance after deployment and ensure the business is able to reap return on investment from the CRM solution.

We will work with nominated stakeholders to shape the session as needed tailoring it to your needs.

Specific outputs:

  1. Identification of risk areas within the process and CRM solution
  2. Agreed steps to mitigate risk and maintain business continuity during the build phase
  3. Joint development with management of a governance model to manage the change, escalate issues and providing reporting visibility
  4. Agreed KPIs to be tracked to ensure return on investment from the solution as well as operational performance

How can you help us maximise performance during build and deployment?

You can have the perfect set of requirements but if the build process doesn't create something that is usable then users will resist it....and simply find it difficult to work with. We can work with key stakeholders to map the low level detailed requirements to ensure a successful system build including specific fields, data to be captured, user interface design with a live demo, required automation of certain tasks and the specific reporting views that the business needs to make key decisions.

We will work with nominated stakeholders to shape the session as needed tailoring it to your needs.

Specific outputs:

  1. Detailed technical requirements
  2. User interface design
  3. Reporting requirements and views that need to be developed
  4. Automation, custom features, user roles and data flow

We have customer issues, what are the options besides a system?

Not all businesses need a system, the requirement is usually driven by how large a business is (scale) or complexity. As it scales, operating expenses increase and therein usually lay opportunities for a system to save lots of time. Similarly, you could have a small scale business but one with very complex customer needs - but again, not all businesses need to be complex.

We always recommend taking some time to understand the exact customer issues and key drivers behind them. Once isolated, it makes it easier to look at the most efficient solutions. There's a useful blog post on the topic here if you're interested. Alternatively, feel free contact us for free no-obligation discussion.