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12 CRM Best Practices to Get More from Your Contact Center Software

  1. Configure & optimize your CRM

  2. Automate for efficiency

  3. Leverage integrations

  4. Meet key metrics

  5. Simplify workflows

  6. Ensure agents are trained properly

  7. Mitigate risks to your brand

  8. Look for opportunities to collaborate

  9. Capture data & insights

  10. Make compliance simpler

  11. Adapt as needs change

  12. Look to your solution provider for expertise

Your consumer engagement CRM is a major investment that your agents use all day, every day – that’s why it’s so important to make sure you’re getting the most out of your software. From time to time, it makes sense to step back and evaluate how your CRM and consumer engagement processes are working. Otherwise, with the fast page of today’s work, it can be easy to overlook potential opportunities for improvement.

Before we dive into the best practices for getting more from your contact center software, it’s helpful to define CRM: customer relationship management refers to a system used to manage interactions with customers across all the different channels where they want to engage. Not to be confused with a sales force automation system, or SFA, which is designed to track new deals from opportunity to close. Check out this post to learn more about the difference between SFA and CRM.

If you’re thinking of adding or replacing your current system, this CRM buyer’s guide outlines what to look for in a vendor and a software product.

With that in mind, here are 12 CRM best practices to get the most from your contact center software:

1. Configure & optimize your CRM

For better ease-of-use, it’s critical to make sure your CRM system is configured and optimized correctly for your business processes – not the other way around. Many teams end up changing their processes to match the limitations of their CRM software, instead of designing and adapting their processes to provide the best experience for customers. Relying on a system that offers advanced pre-configured and user-configurable workflows ensures interactions are handled according to the experience you want to offer.

A few other considerations here:

  • Watch out for over-customization. While having a flexible, easily re-configurable system is important, hard-coded customizations can often be expensive to implement and restrictive over time as your needs change.
  • Configuration (vs. customization) also allows you to tailor processes across different products and brand names you support.
  • An added benefit: a CRM that lets admins adjust configurations without relying on technical resources or going back to the vendor for every change.

2. Automate for efficiency

Are there processes within the CRM that could leverage automation to speed up resolution and improve the agent experience? Some examples would be:

  • Auto-populating new case fields with any information the CRM system already knows about the consumer (their profile, loyalty status, service history, previous purchases, etc.).
  • Offering suggested next best actions for enclosures, follow-up emails, related knowledge base content, and so on.
  • Auto-generating email replies for agents to review and send.
  • Dynamically changing required fields as new information is added to the case, saving agents from having to remember which fields they need to fill in depending on the product or reason for the customer’s contact.

3. Leverage integrations

Look at what integrations could be helpful to make agents’ day-to-day work simpler and more efficient. For example, would your CRM tool allow you to integrate with order management to embed order information directly within the agent’s case screen? What about automatically pulling in information regarding loyalty databases or rewards programs, related products, or nearby retail stores?

4. Meet key metrics

Every team has key performance indicators and SLAs they are responsible for meeting and reporting on. Evaluate how your current CRM is helping to meet those goals, how it could be optimized to improve your team’s performance, and how it currently helps you report on those metrics.

5. Simplify workflows

By analyzing current agent performance and gathering qualitative feedback from your team, find out where there are points of friction in the day-to-day workflows of interacting with customers. It may seem basic, but features like the below can make a major impact on efficiency and agent engagement:

  • Combining all communication channel types into a single queue
  • Enabling auto-refresh as new cases are added
  • Streamlining the amount of typing and keystrokes needed to complete a case

6. Ensure agents are trained properly

Every contact center seems to have a slightly different approach to training, both for new agents as well as ongoing education. Best practices include:

  • Focus on teaching the system, not the content
  • Offer in-contact agent guidance, not scripts
  • Simplify the case management process
  • Automate the most tedious, error-prone tasks
  • Give continuous feedback

For more on agent training best practices, check out this post.

7. Mitigate risks to your brand

Executives rank damage to their company’s brand and reputation as their #1 concern, yet only 39% of companies have a crisis management plan. How does your current system alert you when there is the potential for damage to your brand? Make sure you have threshold alerts set up for issues and complaints as well as customer sentiment, giving you an early warning system to catch a potential crisis in the making.

Another risk is that of goodwill abuse and fraud. Repeater identification and goodwill limits can help protect you from individuals who might otherwise abuse your goodwill policies for their own gain.

8. Look for opportunities to collaborate

One area where we are seeing customer-facing teams struggle is sharing the valuable data they are capturing with the rest of the business. Look for areas where you could have stronger collaboration with other teams, including Marketing, CX, Compliance, and Product/Quality, and think about what types of information could be helpful to share with them to help everyone improve the experience for customers.

9. Capture data & insights

Before you can collaborate and share insights with the rest of the team, you have to be capturing the right data! Evaluate whether your consumer engagement CRM is accurately capturing desired customer data, how the data is stored and accessed by others in the organization (e.g., via a corporate data lake), and whether there are recurring and ad-hoc reporting capabilities to make insights easier to share across lines of business.

10. Make compliance simpler

Compliance with government agencies like FDA, FTC, and HHS, plus privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA, is certainly not getting any simpler. Take a look at how your current CRM system helps ensure compliance with any required rules, and whether those processes could be made simpler. For example, having accurate audit trails and validated systems for reporting, and having configured workflows to process consumer requests such as the “right to be forgotten,” can drastically simplify the daily work of complying with regulations.

11. Adapt as needs change

New communication channels, volume spikes, customer trends, business changes – all these can require your team to adapt and be flexible. Can your CRM flex with you? Consider whether your CRM can integrate with other systems, be easily re-configured to support new processes, and easily add and scale new channels as they arise.

12. Look to your solution provider for expertise

Different CRM vendors offer different areas of expertise. Depending on your industry and business objectives, it may make sense to work with a CRM provider with extensive experience in your industry that can guide you through the process and offer advice for optimizations for the future. This could take the form of a professional services team, who can provide expertise during and after implementation to ensure the system evolves as your business does.

To learn more about how Astute’s agent tools and industry expertise can help you get the most from customer relationships and provide a smoother experience for customers and agents alike, feel free to schedule a demo of our solutions.