Famous thought leader, the Canadian Sociologist, professor and author, Marshall McLuhan, is quoted as saying, “The spoken word was the first technology by which man was able to let go of his environment in order to grasp it in a new way.”
McLuhan’s many writings and provocative philosophy was expressed well before the advent of the PC computers, let alone the Internet and social media. And, as far as my industry is concerned, long before “CRM” software was even a known phrase.
One of the reasons to use CRM software, and databases in general, is to capture and store information that can be useful at a later time. Some details we collect in a CRM system are obviously useful, such as a name and phone number, and other basic contact information, as well as details required in your sales and service processes. For example, a note from a conversation may prove useful to help resolve an unforeseen customer service issue. Or a fact shared in the course of business which may provide an invaluable insight when rolled up in a report.
Much is discovered in the course of communications. Unfortunately, most of it is lost because the people in your organization fail to anticipate the potential value of the information. Often, because they fail to recognize the way in which information, seemingly trivial and not worth documenting, can be used to market, sell, service, and manage more effectively.
Details pass us by everyday. We need to be tuned into the ones worth collecting and the noise that can be ignored. Developing heightened sensitivities, individually and as an organization, does not happen by chance. That is why it is important to do the following:
- Begin with the end in mind – anticipate the need for the information
- Configuration – design your fields, lookup lists, screen layouts, and other aspects of your CRM system to accommodate the information you want collected
- Training and Reinforcement – develop awareness and greater understanding of your system, the importance of the role of the users in collecting data, and the benefits of that information
- Reporting, Marketing, Advanced Usage – the more you can use the system and the data people collect in meaningful ways, the greater the cooperation you will get from your users
- Accountability – hold users, management, marketers, and administrators accountable for their responsibilities and role in the system. CRM depends on everyone doing their part!
When it comes to collecting information, I believe “later is never.” Each time anyone comes across a detail that belongs in your CRM database, they need to appreciate that it is a “moment of truth.” If they fail to enter that piece of information at that very moment, the chances are very high that it will be lost. Which is why there is a marketing adage that says, “when you need the list, it is too late.” (Too late to go back and update it.) Therein is why I titled this article “Set it, so you can forget it.”
As Marshall McLuhan’s quote at the opening of this article implies, technology can free us to grasp our world in new ways. When we put information in our database, we are relieved of the burden of needing to remember it in the ways we needed to before CRM technology.
Follow this link to other CRM Best Practices, and to this list of 7 Best Practices which lead to a better CRM system.
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