CRM benefits are manifold, including but not limited to providing a unified customer view, interactive data analytics dashboards, operations automation, and increased productivity from sales and marketing teams.
But implementing such a helpful business tool can be fraught. Indeed, CRM system implementation can become a taxing project, plagued by budget overruns and lack of expertise.
Here are the top four challenges that Itransition’s CRM experts believe you should consider before embarking on the CRM implementation journey, as well as strategies to mitigate these risks and ensure your CRM project’s success.
Customization vs. configuration
When it comes to CRM software, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. So in pursuit of tailoring CRM to their business needs, many companies choose between CRM configuration and customization.
Today, all modern out-of-the-box CRM systems come with configuration capabilities that cover most business requirements and make tailoring workflows to your requirements easier and faster. In addition, CRM configuration doesn’t require coding, so it’s more cost-effective and less risky than CRM customization.
At the same time, customizing your CRM, you get functionality and software flexibility tailored specifically to your company’s needs and user experience expectations. Although CRM customization requires special technical skills and is often more expensive than configuration, it can give your business a competitive edge.
Striking the balance
While both approaches have their pros and cons, the perfect solution will be the one that aligns with your goals. To choose what works best for your company, carefully evaluate your business objectives and possible challenges and assess your needs, budget, and available technical resources.
Integrating a CRM system with the existing business software or third-party tools can streamline data exchange and turn CRM into a centralized hub for customer and sales data. However, CRM integration without data loss can be challenging for several reasons:
- Compatibility issues
Different software systems can use different data formats and communication protocols, which makes seamless integration challenging. That is why ensuring compatibility between CRM and other tools, such as existing ERP systems, email marketing software, or ecommerce platforms, requires careful integration planning.
- Security and compliance
The more interconnected systems you have, the more devastating the effect of a data breach can be, so integrating CRM with other enterprise software raises concerns about data security and privacy. Moreover, when data is shared across multiple platforms, maintaining compliance with regulations like GDPR becomes more complicated.
- Technical expertise
CRM integration often requires specialized technical expertise, which organizations without significant in-house IT resources can lack, so you may need to hire third-party developers for this.
Overcoming CRM integration challenges
To integrate your CRM system with other enterprise solutions or third-party tools, we recommend mapping out all necessary integrations and understanding the technical requirements for each. Choose integration tools or middleware solutions relevant to your case and develop a solid data management strategy to ensure data integrity and consistency. We also recommend hiring skilled IT professionals or consulting external experts who specialize in CRM integrations if you lack in-house expertise.
Due to the sensitive nature of the information handled by CRM systems, it is necessary to ensure that CRM can securely handle your customer data.
CRM systems can become easy targets for cyber attacks since they are accessed by multiple users across sales, marketing, and customer support departments. Data security threats can also originate from within an organization due to negligent or malicious employee actions. To top it off, additional complexity arises when data is stored off-premises in cloud-based CRMs, requiring additional security measures from cloud providers.
What to do
When implementing a CRM system, employ strong encryption, utilize trusted communication channels, implement strict access controls to strengthen data security, and prepare an incident response, data recovery, and backup plans beforehand. Also, carefully analyze the market and compare different offers to choose a reliable CRM system. If you lack internal resources and plan to entrust CRM implementation to an outsourced provider, make sure to inquire about the technical capabilities and security approaches of potential third-party implementation partners.
One more challenge related to CRM implementation is making sure employees get used to it and use it effectively down the line. First, user adoption can be hindered by user resistance to change, especially if employees are comfortable with the existing processes. This resistance can also stem from fear of the unknown, perceived complexity of the new system, or a belief that the new system won’t make a difference. In addition, a lack of familiarity with the new solution and inadequate training can confuse and frustrate users, leading to low adoption rates.
Companies should begin by communicating the benefits of the CRM system to all future users, highlighting how it will make their work easier and contribute to the overall business performance. You can even involve potential users in the CRM selection process to increase their buy-in and ensure the selected system meets their expectations. Then, provide comprehensive CRM training catering to different user roles to teach your employees how to use CRM properly and effectively.
After the system implementation, to show users that their input is valued, you can collect their feedback on CRM usage and consider making necessary adjustments to ensure a higher level of employee satisfaction.
Summing it up
Like any digital transformation initiative, CRM implementation requires time, effort, investment, and careful planning. By wisely addressing the described risks head-on, either alone or with the help of external partners, companies pave the way for smoother CRM implementation and ensure the new tech will transform their customer engagement strategies and drive business growth.