Customer relationship management (CRM) integrations can be a time-consuming and costly process if they’re not planned out thoroughly and if all relevant stakeholders aren’t engaged from the very beginning. Let’s take a look at how you can implement a successful CRM strategy - and why you should invest in it.
What is a CRM?
First things first: to complete a successful CRM integration, you first need to understand what a CRM is.
Put very simply, CRM softwareis a contact management system that stores all sorts of customer data, from basic contact information like phone numbers to email addresses and social media handles. But it goes much further than that, by recording every interaction a customer has with your business, recording clicks, visits and purchasing history.
With all of this data at your fingertips, a CRM database is a powerful tool for both your customer service and sales team. Your sales reps can use the data to prioritise and follow up on leads, and even use data to improve your sales processes based on what works and what doesn’t.
It also allows your support agents to improve the customer experience through quick response times and a seamless approach to cross-channel communications. What’s more, you can use a CRM to improve your marketing strategies by personalising messaging and identifying cross- and up-sell opportunities.
Essentially, an agile CRM is an asset to your business that you can use to capture new customers and keep your existing ones satisfied. The many CRM features enables you to take a customer-centric approach across all aspects of your business. If that sounds good, keep reading to find out more about integrating it into your current business strategy.
What integrations are needed with CRM
This means integrating your CRM system into your existing third-party applications so they work seamlessly together. The integrations needed, then, depends on what software you use as a business. We’ve outlined some of the most common integrations below.
Love it or loathe it, phone conversations are still a key part of the customer journey for complaints and queries. Your CRM must be compatible with your phone system, allowing customer information and call details to be recorded there. This ensures that all the information is stored in a central location for future reference.
If you use a live chat function (and if you don’t, you should as it allows for real time interactions to improve customer satisfaction), then this must be integrated with your CRM. As well as this, live chat is a great way of capturing leads, which you can then quickly and easily follow up on in your CRM system.
From Gmail to Outlook and everything in between, integrating your email client with your CRM is particularly important for your sales team. Email is a key part of the business process. Connecting your email client to your CRM system means that sales reps have all the data they need at their fingertips, making it quicker and easier for them to send out cold emails and follow up on leads.
Lead management tools
If your sales team uses a prospecting or lead management tool, then these can be integrated with a CRM. This makes it easier to see if there have been any communications with the lead in the past, and you can also use the data to qualify and process or discard the lead.
Similarly, any forecasting tools should be integrated with your CRM to ensure the data is available for future use.
From sales and marketing to website and social media analytics, these tools contain a wealth of information about your customers that you’ll want to carry over to your CRM.
Forms and surveys
If you use tools like SurveyMonkey to do market research or measure customer loyalty, this data can add an extra dimension to your customer support tickets and should be integrated with your CRM.
Make it even easier for your customer support agents to respond to questions and complaints on social media by integrating your platforms and scheduling tools like Hootsuite with your CRM.
Slack or Teams
If you use a communication tool like Slack or Teams, then you should integrate it with your CRM to improve coordination between all of your departments. You can either use the chat function in Slack, or in your CRM to avoid switching back and forth between the two apps.
Understand your customers better when you integrate tools like Shopify and Stripe with your CRM. This enables you to have all the right data in one place, making it even easier to keep on top of orders and payments.
How to integrate a CRM
When you’re ready to go ahead with the integration, there are a few steps you should follow to ensure a streamlined, successful process.
Understand your company’s needs
From your customer support agents to your sales and marketing teams, speak to as many people as possible to understand what you need from a CRM.
Demo your chosen CRM software
Before hitting ‘go’ on your integration, you should ensure that you’re happy with your chosen software - and there’s no better way to do this than with a demo. This will give you final confirmation that the software is the right one for your business, and will allow you to note down any questions, concerns or risks that you need to be aware of.
Commit to - and communicate - a schedule
Once you’ve decided on your CRM software, it’s time to set up a schedule for integration. Everyone in the business must know when you’ll be transitioning over to the new system, so your plan should set out key steps in the integration process. This could include things like integration, configuration and team training.
Run a pre-configuration
The first step is to run a basic configuration of the software, just so your development team can report back on any bugs or issues before going ahead with the full software integration. If there are any areas for improvement, these should be worked on according to the schedule.
Go ahead with the full integration
When you’re confident that all issues have been resolved, you can go ahead with the full CRM integration.
This shouldn’t be an afterthought. CRM systems can be quite complex, with lots of moving parts, so the relevant teams must know how to use it - and what the advantages of doing so are. There’s no point in having all of this data at your fingertips if your teams are resistant to using it, so make sure to involve them in the integration process from the start, and schedule comprehensive training as soon as it’s ready to use.
We listed some of the key integrations above - but there are many, many more. Take a look for yourself to find inspiration for your website.