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Our last discussion covered the essentials of creating a successful user journey, just one step in our ongoing blogs on how to succeed in choosing and implementing a CRM system.  Now it is time to turn our attention to the people within the firm who are focused on driving the business value of the CRM and ensuring that the functionality is leveraged effectively. 

The CRM project owners and the employees of the firm must be coordinated and the business priorities must be clear and aligned. 

From the business perspective, clear expectations are essential regarding how the system will be used and what, if any, its interaction will be with other systems that the firm is currently using.    

Utilization

Utilization goes well beyond the act of logging in and working with the system each day. Rather it draws off the business needs analysis completed earlier in the journey and defines exactly how the system will be implemented within a practice. 

Desired utilization may be as simple as building in and managing basic workflows to achieve greater consistency, visibility and accountability. For most practices, it will go further to include automation, at least within a single application. Significant business benefits will be realized when the CRM system is integrated with other software solutions (e.g., financial planning, portfolio management and document management) and the user experience in executing key workflows like prepping for a client meeting is made easier.  

Feedback is a term that should never be far from any discussion on utilization. Building in the means and accountability to collect, evaluate and work with user feedback is critical to ensuring the long term health and effectiveness of your CRM. It is an investment for which the return will grow over time if properly managed from the beginning.

Integrations

Anyone who is responsible for driving the business value of CRM will likely also be looking very closely at the opportunity to, and value of, integrating CRM with other systems that are in use within the practice. These evaluations should cover the current needs of the practice as well as its plans for growth and technology roadmap over the next several years.  

All financial service industry specific CRM vendors include integration capabilities as part of their offering. These vendors are making continuous investments to enhance integrations with other software vendors such as financial planning and portfolio management. By doing so, they quickly eliminate many potential barriers and redundant data entry issues for advisors. With that said, it is important to remember that just because systems can integrate doesn’t necessarily mean that you will receive the business impact that you are looking for. 

Reports

Regardless of the sophistication of the CRM system in terms of utilization and integration, CRM is a master storehouse and access point for significant amounts of valuable business information.  Information is only valuable if it can be easily retrieved from the system and is used to produce a desired business outcome.  

Reports are the primary means used by a practice to extract and evaluate various combinations and views of this vast store of information. Basic reporting functionality will be included with any CRM system available on the market today, with basic reports including active contacts, recent activity, customer segments and new client acquisition.    

Taking reports to the intermediate level typically involves tailoring standard repots to the practices specialized needs and creating custom reports. Here the data view becomes more directly correlated with the goals of the practice. Think of data sets like performance to goal, year over year comparisons and other multi-dimensional views of the business. 

For practices that are truly committed to leveraging the full power of their CRM system, advanced reports will provide the greatest alignment of data with business goals, utilization drivers, and ultimately user and practice success. 

As a practice advances the sophistication of their reporting they can expect that the monetary investment will likely grow as well, as should the business results on the other end. That is not to say that the existence of advanced reports will magically improve success, but rather that it arms leadership and team members with the greatest ability to focus their efforts on the areas that are most likely to result in positive business results.  It also helps to ensure that no clients or tasks fall between the cracks along the way. 

On the Journey to CRM Success, your basic implementation is akin to getting into the car and starting to drive (the most basic of its functionality). Leveraging integrations, advanced functionality and reports improve the journey experience and efficacy and are well worth the time and energy invested.  

My next post in this series will discuss activity management including such topics as contact information, history, tasks, to-dos and reminders. 

See all the steps in The Advisor’s Journey to CRM Success.