I wonder; can you and I agree on one thing before we go any further? I suggest that there are very few businesses in this information-data-burden world that do not need help with keeping track of who their potential clients could be, what their current clients are doing with them and indeed what previous clients thought of them and what it would take to win them back.
Do you agree? I don’t think that this statement is too radical and I think the massive size of the global CRM marketplace, which stands at an estimated $15bn in 2014, is testament to this real and apparent business need.
This process of “knowing your client” (otherwise known as CRM) can be as low-tech as a notepad or as high-tech as a massive enterprise mainframe computer system and obviously the appropriateness of each solution and which is best for individual businesses is clearly dictated by their budget and scale.
So; if you agreed with my first statement I hope that you will also agree with this next one – that the one thing which remains true for all business people like you, is that having good (by which I mean detailed, available and relevant) information about future-clients, existing-clients and past-clients delivers the ability to demonstrate more effectively to those clients that yourproduct/service meets their needs. Needs that you understand because you’ve been taking notice of (logging and modelling) their requirements.
Every Little Helps…
CRM is more than just aiming to replicate Tesco’s massive ‘clubcard’ database, for instance! CRM is making sure that as a company the systems you run (paper, spread sheet, software, whatever etc.) enable you to put your customers at the heart of your business so that ALL the work your team does is conducted with the certain knowledge that it is in some way improving the experience that your customer will get from your business. That is what pushes CRM into the “give me an advantage” arena and why all businesses should manage some form of CRM system as a “base-level” business tool.
CRM has become a business “buzzword” and a business ‘must-have’ over the last half-decade and particularly so for small and growing businesses, whereas before it had been the preserve of big-corporates who tended to build their own systems or append CRM to existing enterprise level databases. Of late more “cloud” based online systems and ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) have come to the market and generally dominate There are many CRM solutions being offered within the market place. Many of them demonstrating good functionality in relevant areas and with a vast range of pricing points available.
Beware! Dangerous Seas Ahead…
So, let’s see if you agree with my 3rd hypothesis; that it’s a rather tempestuous CRM ocean you’re sailing on and figuring out which product to go with can be a daunting prospect. Well, we’re a helpful bunch at Junari so here is our view of the things that if you’re in the market for a new CRM system you should be thinking deeply about and putting in place strategies for how you avoid.
So, just as there are the 7 deadly sins in life we hereby present you with what we think make up the 7 equally deadly “Sea Monsters” that if you can you should definitely avoid sailing blindly into:
1) SaaS? So long as you like your service to be remote – Most SaaS (Software as a Service) models rely upon high-user-volume, low running-cost business models to make the SaaS owner profitable. As one of their clients therefore you can expect to be kept at arm’s length and for any training or usability issues to be dealt with via video-link or in some cases a premium-rate telephone line. But sometimes an issue is just a little bit too complex and necessitates a need to sit face to face. Most SaaS providers just will not do this. Think carefully about your appetite for support before selecting a CRM solution. If you’re an organisation that likes your suppliers to become close confidants then a SaaS model is probably not for you.
2) Thanks for your Data: Consider carefully the issue of data ownership– there are many solutions that have an inherent lock-in on the data that you will put into your CRM system. These CRM providers make it impossible to get a dump of the database when you want to move on and even a csv output file is a request too far for them! Or they’ll give you a portion of your data in csv file but not all of the relational fields. This is going to be highly disruptive to your business should you wish to change future CRM supplier. In some cases you can NEVER get your data back (prepare to employ multiple data-entry clerks to retype your data into your new CRM if this is the case).
3) This way or the highway: Watch out for proprietary software solutions – fixed code that dictates a certain (or limited) business process. Here at Junari we’ve never yet met a business for whom this approach was 100% applicable. We’ve met businesses who thought that 95% was fine – but the remaining 5% was really bugging the hell out of them. Because it was this minority 5% that was causing a good 95% of the delays or issues within their business and which led to user-disengagement – and before the CRM project sponsor knew it, users were back to creating their own individual spreadsheets to keep note of critical client-relationship issues <exit aforementioned CRM project Sponsor stage left with P45 adroitly tucked into back pocket>.
4) One-Size Fits All: Solutions that are industry siloes with limited options for moving outside of these parameters are great for the profitability of the software provider as they represent less cost, development complexity and therefore development time. But, do you really want to replicate exactly what your competitors are doing simply because you are using the defacto industry-standard CRM? Where is the market differentiation and market advantage for you in that?
There are thousands of CRM sellers out there who talk incessantly about how customisable their systems are, or even how their particular logic of “how to do work” is relevant to certain industry sectors. However, we’ve never yet met an “average” business even if they did live within the same industry area as another firm. Each and every business is always going to be “differently similar”. It is the similarity that lulls you into thinking that you could use an off-the-shelf solution but it is the subtle differences that will have you and your users stuck in a workflow cul-de-sac and ultimately losing out on efficiency savings, productivity gains and competitive advantage.
5) You can change ‘em – but it’s gonna cost you: Always check out a future CRM provider’s ability to grow along with your business – do this in terms of the software functionality, breadth and scalability within a viable commercial model. All things are possible within IT of course; it is the complexity of changing the code and adding new functionality that define if you have the time or the money to afford it though. It’s pretty important that last bit isn’t it! Many systems are “customisable”. But only if expensive system-developers are employed to perform the work. So is that part of your contingency budgeting? Are you happy to ring fence that amount of working capital?
6) No Jostling in the Queue Please: Heedful (and frankly happy) that I’m speaking to a UK market, we have to acknowledge the vast majority of CRM solutions in the market place are US owned and US domiciled. Was that a “So What?” comment I just heard? Well, pardon my pedantry but isn’t this a bottom line business fundamental – you want to know that when it becomes necessary, you have support and assistance to hand don’t you? There is no reassurance for business owners of dealing with a “local” company if they use many of the big name CRM solutions. Some CRM companies will counter with the fact that they have UK based satellite support offices or have a network of resellers – but these teams aren’t controlling the product’s functionality or roadmap. For that you have to go back to the good’ol US of A. So, in most cases UK companies will have to queue up alongside the whole of America/Rest of World before their product updates/improvements can be acknowledged or realised.
7) Deep Pockets are an Advantage: And finally, the ever present issue of money! Low cost start options that come with “further down the road” commercials in combination with a limited level of customisation and functionality-flex is a killer oceanic maelstrom! Although initially the dead cheap monthly price point can look attractive, the moment that you diverge from the “basic” options the costs in some CRM pricing can ramp up severely leaving you wondering at which point your business case for having a CRM dissolved into thin air! Look carefully at how your user and business requirements are likely to grow and translate that into a “lifetime cost” of the prospective CRM. Then compare it to what you reckon should be the “lifetime value” of the software. Sometimes, what initially looked like the higher-cost at start-up option can, over the life of the system, end up saving you lots of money. Which is surely going to be better for your business (and bring with it the added advantage of system & business continuity – but that’s for another blog post….)
Still feel like you’re overboard and the sharks are circling?
Now it will come to you as no surprise that here at Junari we have worked hard to make our CRM software avoid ALL of these traps and in doing so help UK businesses avoid them too. Because Junari wins when our clients succeed. Period.
If you want to have a totally commitment free frank chat with us about what your CRM requirements are – irrespective of whether they’re a good fit for our JunariCRM+ software or not – then get in touch.
We’re on a mission to help every business in the UK get the CRM system they deserve.
Contact us on email@example.com +44 (0)1206 625225