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Making the Most of Your CRM System

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Today, clients want to know that you know them, and you have your arms around all of the interactions that your business has with them.

So ask yourself, do your clients see that your entire team knows them and is up to speed on their latest concerns and questions? Or do they receive multiple duplicate emails from you? Do they have to explain the same question or situation each time they interact with someone different at your office?

Here's another question: how many places have you stored your customer information -- in Microsoft Outlook, marketing systems and spreadsheets, to name a few?

Searching for scattered data is incredibly inefficient and massively reduces your staffs’ productivity. They end up entering and re-entering information into multiple systems to provide answers, reports and services to your clients. Do they need to go to 10 different places to get ready for a client meeting? That’s a problem.

You need to be collecting all of your client touchpoints in one centralized place. In the old days (more than five years ago) this meant tracking phone calls and meeting notes in a centralized database, but in today’s digital online world it includes tracking clicks on your newsletter, blog, website and client portal, and capturing data from all of the other websites that you use as part of your client experience -- tracking each client’s entire customer journey. Only by capturing these activities and integrating these systems with your CRM will you have an efficient singular view into your client relationship. But where do you start?

  • Identify all of the client interactions that you need to capture.

Work with your team to create a list of all of the prospect and client touchpoints, through all of the different channels, from phone to email to website. Walk through your entire customer experience end to end and spend the time to make sure it’s comprehensive. Short-cutting this important process will only make your final result less effective.

  • Select the system you will use to aggregate all of that data.

Which CRM system are you going to use? Does your current system have the capabilities you need? There are many players in this space, from Redtail to Junxure to Microsoft Dynamics to Salesforce.com. Don’t forget to think beyond their raw capabilities -- how intuitive is the interface for your staff? How extensible is their platform to be able to mold to meet your needs?
Make sure your entire team is part of the selection process. You need input from all parts of your organization as they need to own this decision - they are the ones who will ultimately be using it. Also, bring in an outside consultant to help with the selection process.

If you have a relationship with any of the large RIA custodians, they have resources available to help you with this process. If you’re a growing business, don’t be near-sighted -- think about what your business will evolve to over the next few years, and make sure you are selecting a system that can grow to meet your ever-expanding needs. Having to shift CRMs is disruptive, so don’t think of this as a short-term solution.

  • Drive adoption and usage of your CRM system.

Having your entire team participating in the selection process can reduce speed bumps to adoption. But even if you’re not so lucky, there are strategies that can help drive adoption. Be clear and consistent in your messaging that if it’s not in the CRM, it doesn’t exist. Pull up your CRM data in meetings, and have that drive the discussion about what is and what is not happening regarding sales, marketing, client service activity and client experience.
Your people will quickly respond and start ensuring that anything they want others to see, needs to be in the CRM. Make sure the processes and integrations you’ve established actually help make things easier for staff -- the quickest way to adoption is creating a more efficient process. Make sure you don’t create additional steps for the sake of reporting - make sure your reporting comes automatically from the simple small set of steps needed to track and manage the client relationship.

There are numerous benefits to moving to a centralized and fully integrated CRM strategy, ranging from institutionalizing your practice so it’s not so dependent on any particular individual, to increased productivity for your team, with the ability to manage many more client relationships, at the same service level, with the same amount of resources you currently have. 

However, the most significant impact is the increase in your clients’ satisfaction with you and your team. One of the best drivers of growth for a firm is referrals from existing clients and increasing their satisfaction will result in meaningful increases from referrals and higher growth rates for your business.

Mike Capelle is chief strategy officer at United Capital. One of United Capital’s founders, Capelle is responsible for the company’s operating platform and technology and for driving enterprise innovation. 

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