How to switch CRM systems without a hitch (almost)
They say if something isn’t broken, not to fix it. But what if you could replace that something with a more advanced, intuitive product? You needn’t fix your old one; simply make the leap to a more sophisticated solution.
That’s exactly what you’re doing when you implement a new CRM system in place of your existing one. Of course, you have to weigh up the pros and cons of the new CRM system. It has to work both on a practical and economical level.
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It has to be scalable and fit seamlessly in with the company’s other programmes and employees. After all, they’re the people who are going to be using it day in, day out.
With so many CRM systems on the market though, how does a company know which to choose? Since CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems were designed to help businesses benefit from their customer relationships, it’s only fitting that companies should select the best system to keep their customers loyal and satisfied.
CRM systems vary in the diversity of tools and features each offers but when looking to switch to a new CRM system, companies should always consider the following aspects:
Your CRM system should seamlessly integrate with other applications such as Outlook, Gmail, iCal, Salesforce etc and any other programmes you use regularly. Most leading CRM systems offer similar features, although you’ll find unique tools across the board, so it’s best to thoroughly compare CRM systems to find the best fit for your business.
Each CRM system will have its own ability to store specific information for customers. You’ll already know that in this fast-paced business world, we need to access customer information quickly. As well as addresses and phone numbers, some CRM systems let you save maps, company websites, social media pages and relations to other contacts. The key here is to understand what level of contact data you require – and how you’re going to port from one type of contact to another.
This example from Preact (http://www.preact.co.uk/preact_blog/comparing-contact-records-between-act-and-microsoft-dynamics-crm) shows the similarity between Sage Act and Microsoft Dynamics contact data, but also the gap between the two. It also highlights the potential for businesses moving from smaller systems to larger ones – this is not an implementation that you can do alone.
Sales & Marketing tools
CRM systems offer sales and marketing tools that are designed to help maintain current clients and gain new ones. Some of these include automated email campaigns, real-time alerts, campaign tracking, reports and office integration with Excel and Word. Through these tools you can find out which of your campaigns have a positive ROI and which ones aren’t performing.
There’s no use having the latest CRM system if no one knows how to use it. Smooth, quick navigation and easy-to-locate icons were among the top features most companies look for when switching platforms.
Help & Support
If something goes wrong, it’s always handy to know that there is always back up at the end of a phone or e-mail. The best CRM systems have outstanding customer support teams who will guide you to a quick resolution should an issue arise.
Communication & Culture
Switching CRM systems can be beset with pitfalls. For example, if you aren’t using cross-departmental project teams to drive the change through the organisation, it looks like ‘yet another change’ ordered from on high. Get buy-in, communicate the changes well, and get multiple stakeholders to give input. After all, CRM usage is across the whole business, so ensure everyone has buy-in.
Salesforce vs Dynamics
Is Dynamics the equal of Salesforce? In a word, no. But it might be, given the investment and the scale of their acquisitions. Equally, as most businesses use Microsoft Software every day (e.g. Outlook), integration is a key factor that makes the ascent of MS Dynamics CRM understandable.
However, CRM Switch make some very salient points regarding the comparison between Salesforce and Dynamics: http://www.crmswitch.com/buying-crm/salesforce-versus-ms-crm/. The main difference, it appears, lies in the implementation. Whereas Salesforce new customers are given the basis (and have to build up), Dynamics new customers are given everything (and have to trim back).
This makes switching between CRM systems another challenge – what’s the scope? If you’re going from a small CRM system up to Salesforce or Dynamics, then you’re acquiring a system to match your new status. You have new possibilities, so scope out your project fully and understand what you need – and what you don’t need.
Salesforce certainly has the flexibility and the scalability to rival any CRM on the market, but if you’re into integration, then Dynamics might be for you. Either way, remember – scope it out, know what you need, know what you don’t need, and communicate, communicate, communicate.
The key to switching CRM systems without a hitch, then, is twofold: understanding yourself, and talking.