Real-world CRM is more than just sales effectiveness

Gareth Cartman is a digital marketer with a particular passion for CRM, having worked with a number of CRM businesses.

It’s tempting to see CRM solely through the prism of sales & marketing effectiveness. We create efficiencies, workflows, work collaboratively, and drive pipeline, sure. But let’s not draw the line there. CRM deployment around the world is helping save lives, improve wellbeing, and protect people. This is real-world CRM on the front line, and we can draw inspiration from some of the innovative ways in which CRM systems are being bespoked, bent backwards and crimped at the edges in order to achieve noble aims.

Improving animal welfare

One of the largest-scale CRM databases in the UK is called Petlog, and it comes at a time when the UK government is bringing in the compulsory microchipping of all dogs. This means that every dog has to have a microchip planted underneath its skin, and that microchip has to be logged on a central database, along with its keeper (owner), and their details.

This is a huge operation, with several notable aims. Firstly, there is the issue of lost pets, an issue that costs an estimated £57m a year to the government and animal charities. Over 100,000 pets go missing each year, causing stress not just to the owner but to the animal itself. Many animals end up at charities such as Battersea Cats & Dogs Home in London.

The microchip will allow the animal’s keeper to be located quickly, and the animal returned to the owner as soon as possible.

Secondly, it also allows more proactiveness when it comes to owners of dangerous dogs. If, for example, an owner who has a history of keeping dangerous dogs suddenly registers several new dogs, an alert will be created, and action can be taken. It’s not just dangerous dogs, it’s potentially about abusive owners. Therefore, this CRM is designed to help animal charities act more quickly in order to help animals in danger or in distress.

Richard Ferriman, CEO of Cloud Symphony, has implemented a number of animal welfare systems, and his experience is invaluable. He stressed the importance of knowing your overarching aim:

“The key learning here for everyone, whether in a charity or not, is to understand the aims of your CRM system before implementing. What results do you want to achieve? And how can you improve your organisation’s proactiveness? What alerts can you set and what are the escalation workflows that ensure action is taken promptly?

“Don’t define your aims around technology, define them around your business – let the CRM system adapt to that, not the other way around.”

Speeding up the adoption process

Often, when we talk about adoption in a CRM context, it’s about trying to get teams to use CRM more. However, in a real-world CRM context, systems are being deployed to speed up the child adoption process.

Adoption levels are low in the UK, and part of the reason for that is the slowness of the process. It puts many prospective parents off, and one of the results of the slow process is that many children end up in care instead of with adoptive parents.

This puts not only unnecessary financial strain on the system, but unnecessary stress and strain on the children and the parents. What these CRM systems seek to achieve is workflow efficiencies on a similar scale to those that we seek in our own organisations.

How can this process be streamlined? Where are the gaps? Where are the points of failure? These are the issues that need addressing through the system, and charities deploying these systems have clear targets that CRM is meant to achieve.

For all businesses, this is the key aspect – understand what it is you’re measuring. Coca-Cola call it “The North Star” – there may be all manner of other targets to aim for, but what’s the absolute overall definition of success?

Putting out fires with CRM

We might all claim to be fire-fighting at work, but very few of us actually are fire-fighting in the same way that Kent & Medway Fire & Rescue are. Back in 2007, they implemented Microsoft Dynamics to help them better serve the 1.6 million people who live in the county.

The CRM helped them manage Home Fire Safety Checks, and allows them to target certain communities. Equally, implementation of MS Dynamics brought their processing time for HFSC requirements down from 20 minutes to 30 seconds, doubling their productivity overall.

Sometimes, then, it’s the simple things with CRM. How can you, through better use of a system, cut out unnecessary waste? How can you automate certain processes that allow your teams to move away from administrating, and spend more time away from the CRM, doing what your customers really want you to do? Kent and Medway used CRM to prevent fires from starting in the first place, helping cut down the number of incidents.

So, when implementing CRM, don’t just see it as a tool to improve effectiveness, look at your reasons for implementing. What is your ultimate aim? What’s the “north star” vision, and define how it will benefit your customers, not just you. Real-world CRM is at your fingertips, you just have to take it beyond the boundaries of your organisation.

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