7 Steps to a Flawless CRM Implementation

coworkers collaborating on a crm implementation

You’re not the only one with a consumer engagement CRM implementation on your work plan this year. Whether you’re adding a CRM case management system for the first time, or replacing an existing system, the process can get complicated fast.

Follow these seven steps and you won’t just get your new CRM system up and running more smoothly—you’ll make more meaningful connections with your consumers while driving loyalty in the process.

  • Step 1: Create the Strategy
  • Step 2: Generate Buy-In
  • Step 3: Build the Team
  • Step 4: Develop Guidelines
  • Step 5: Migrate Your Data
  • Step 6: Get Trained Up
  • Step 7: Measure, Optimize, Repeat

For this conversation, let’s assume you’ve already chosen a best-in-class consumer engagement CRM.

The vendor promises strong training and support, an interface that can handle all your communication channels in one place, and integration with all of your key systems.

Now, let’s actually make it all happen.

Step 1: Create the Strategy

The first step to a successful CRM implementation is to…stop. Yes – we said it – stop. Take a step back and put the who, what, when, where, and why on paper:

  • Who. The key players (internally and externally) that will touch the CRM.
  • What. The information that will live within the CRM and how it will be used.
  • When. The timeline for planning, training, launching, and optimizing the CRM.
  • Where. The location of your current data and how it will migrate to the new CRM.
  • Why. The objectives for the CRM implementation and how you’ll measure success.
  • How. The ways your work processes will change by adopting this CRM.

This isn’t just another tool in your tech tool belt. It’s a strategy that should ladder up to your broader customer-centric communications plans.

Step 2: Generate Buy-In

You won’t be successful if you’re the only one who uses your new tool. So now’s the time to take that strategic plan and ensure every single stakeholder understands the who, what, when, where, why and how of your CRM implementation.

This doesn’t just mean the C-Suite (although they are very important). You’re going to need support from the top and the bottom for maximum adoption. The 3 E’s will empower senior leaders to provide the vision, and encourage super-users to champion the tool on the front lines.

  • Education. State the problems you’re solving and your strategic plan for solving them.
  • Engagement. Ask for feedback on your plan and optimize accordingly.
  • Endurance. Ride the wave of change with patience and maintain a feedback loop.

Step 3: Build the Team

A successful CRM implementation will be difficult without a team to support you. Remember the “who” in your strategic plan? Here’s where they come into play. Let’s build your internal core team:

  • The most important player is the project manager (which is probably you). This person keeps all the trains moving on time in the right direction.
  • You’ll also need technical specialists that can migrate your current data and customize your new system to meet the needs of your users.
  • Next up you’ll want to find some front-line “super users” that just can’t wait to get their hands dirty. They could eventually be system admins and trainers.
  • The final internal puzzle pieces are representatives from each department that will touch the tool in any way. Think: contact center agents, Quality, Product, and so on.

Your CRM vendor should also be a key (external) member of this team – all the way through implementation to ongoing support.

Step 4: Develop Guidelines

Guidelines should outline two key areas: configuration and usage.

  • Configuration. Hopefully your tool is designed for the actual day-to-day realities of how agents work, so it shouldn’t need a lot of customization – just configuration to your desired workflows. This part of the guidelines outlines just that. What are you tailoring and how should it be done? This can be handed down to admins who need to optimize the tool in the future.
  • Usage. A CRM system is only as good as the information you put in it. This section of the guidelines outlines the process for how users input and extract information. Hopefully, the system you’ve selected can auto-fill certain case fields based on what it already knows about the consumer, and guides agents through each step of the process to ensure accuracy. This approach also makes general usage and reporting more effective.

Step 5: Migrate Your Data

Getting support from your vendor is crucial throughout the CRM implementation process, but it might be the most important at this stage. They likely have a wealth of experience with different data migration scenarios and strategies. So tap in to it! Then follow these five steps:

  1. Plan it Out. Weigh your options up front and create a clear data migration action plan.
  2. Data Dump. If your data lives in multiple places, now’s the time to get it organized.
  3. Data Cleanse. Scrub your current customer data to ensure all information is up to date.
  4. Testing, Testing. Choose a handful of records for a dry run. Fix bugs accordingly.
  5. Just Do It. Transfer your data via Excel, CSV, manually, or a custom migration tool.

Step 6: Get Trained Up

You can have the best CRM implementation usage guidelines in the world, but if no one knows what they are…what’s the point? That’s where training comes in.

Luckily, you’ve already shared your high-level strategy with trainees at this point so everyone should be bought in to why you’re making a change. This lets you focus your training session on the how – the skills needed to actually use and optimize the tool.

But how do you actually facilitate a meaningful session that drives adoption?

  • Before. Throwback to high school and assign some good old-fashioned homework. The assignment should reemphasize the strategy and also let your audience get some experience actually working in the tool. This way, they’ll come better equipped to ask thoughtful questions about the CRM during the session.
  • During. Use different methods to appeal to different learning styles. Incorporate lecture, hands-on practice, discussion and more. Don’t forget to leverage the expertise of your CRM vendor and your super users by letting them facilitate parts (or all) of the training. A consumer engagement CRM system that offers agent guidance along the way, as well as an integrated knowledgebase, means that you can spend the training time teaching how to use the tool, not how to handle every type of case that may come agents’ way.
  • After. Nobody’s perfect. So, you probably missed a few things during your session. Send a survey to attendees after the fact (and on an ongoing basis after implementation) to ask for gaps in their understanding of the CRM. Schedule subsequent sessions to address these topics.

Step 7: Measure, Optimize, Repeat

You planned the work. Now it’s time to work the plan.

Here are a few questions to continuously ask yourself to keep your new CRM running smoothly:

  • Is it working like it’s supposed to? Make sure users have a vehicle with which they can report issues with the system. Address these with your admin and/or vendor ASAP.
  • Is it being used (and used correctly)? Keep track of adoption by each user and if they’re following usage guidelines. Use automated QA and system reporting to identify any product or reason codes that are causing confusion, or any agents in particular who are struggling to input data accurately. Schedule follow-up training if needed.
  • Is it helping your company’s bottom line? Define business metrics that directly correlate to your CRM. Use them to justify its cost and to invest in new capabilities.

At Astute, our team has used decades of consumer engagement expertise to build core capabilities into the Astute Agent CRM. And our expert implementation team works with you every step of the way. Get in touch with us to learn more about how to make your CRM switch run smoothly.