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CRMs: Why, when and how?

Mar 30 2020

Why use a CRM?

There are many people within NFP organisations that continue to store and manage their data using spreadsheets, rather than a CRM system. This may be down to their personal preference, or the workflow that they inherited when joining the organisation. If they have never used a CRM system, then it’s likely they won’t know whether they would even need one. More often than not, it can be that a CRM hasn’t been adopted because change can be daunting, and the effort involved seems overwhelming!

As the NFP sector is becoming increasingly digital, more and more enquiries we receive at SubscriberCRM come from those that already use CRMs but are looking to switch for various reasons. Customers outgrowing their current CRM due to increased members or organisational staff needing access is common, as well as the need to record bespoke information about certain members in order to help categorise and automate processes further. Other factors that are high priority for those looking to switch tend to be cost, pricing flexibility and improved customer support from the CRM supplier.

Ultimately the purpose of a CRM is to provide a secure location on which to store data that can be categorised by chosen types and accessed by those that need it in order to perform day to day tasks required to run an organisation. Spreadsheets are excellent for storing data but fall short in terms of the ability to automate processes and allow users to review their data in differing ways to gain insight and understanding. They can also be hard to manage, especially when accessed by multiple users who all have differing opinions (and levels of care!) when managing data.

It’s fair to say that a CRM is only as good as the information that is stored within it, but it does provide a flexible yet disciplined structure for people to both follow and personalise in a way that suits their department or organisation.

SubscriberCRM has over 25 years’ experience working with the NFP sector and has been strategically designed to provide the best possible platform for an organisations data to be stored. Our tried and tested methods help to create a user-friendly platform that provides structure and increased functionality that allows for expansion and integration with a full range of software commonly used within the sector.

We can also provide bespoke functionality but more often than not, the standard format we provide is flexible enough to cater for most requirements.

Although we provide a digital solution, we understand the importance of human interaction and the value of relationships which is why we strive to offer excellent ongoing support.

Data security and GDPR compliance are crucial when storing personal data and failure to manage this correctly will not only breach the trust from your members but can lead to prosecution. By storing data on a secure CRM system as opposed to spreadsheets, an organisation can assign relevant permissions meaning only those with access can view data they are required to see. This provides accountability and responsibility for those that access it and provides the organisation added control.

When to consider a CRM?

The obvious answer would be now! But this isn’t always the best option and we would encourage people to take in to account large processes that happen throughout the year, such as membership renewals or financial audits. Our advice would be to adopt or switch to your chosen CRM in plenty of time to ensure your CRM does exactly what it’s meant to do, by making these processes much easier.

For organisations in the start-up phase, adopting a CRM is fairly straight forward and will help define a structure for data management, so the earlier they begin, the quicker they can start using it. Starting from a blank slate will help stay organised moving forward and will eliminate any bad habits that can be inherited from an institutionalised process of working. It will also allow the start up to provide their members a professional service and range of benefits on par with that of a more established organisation. Selecting a CRM that provides flexible pricing relevant to requirements matched with the ability to expand and grow with them, will help future proof the workflow and maximise resource and budget efficiency.

Another great time is when you may think your database is in too much of a mess to ever rectify and that all hope is gone! This may require more preparation and time but getting organised is an inevitability and the sooner its tackled, the better. More often than not, it’s easier than first thought and the benefits significantly outweigh the effort involved. SubscriberCRM offers expert consultancy to help review and organise your data, as well as data migration to insert your data into the new system and train your team.

What’s involved?

Before deciding if a CRM is for you, or committing to a CRM provider, it’s highly advisable to carry out research on your current processes and review how things are currently done. It’s also a very good idea to appoint a Project Lead to manage this and speak to people within the organisation to understand the processes of other departments and what they might require. Whether you would be the user of the software, or the Manager of a team that use it, it’s important to get input from all levels of seniority that will have involvement. Gaining insight from people at this stage will help buy-in later on when adopting a new system. Research what you need, review your current processes, see what works, what doesn’t, who needs to access data and what problems this can bring. What do you currently do that takes time and also what software do you use? It’s also important to consider what your members need and how you can serve them better.

Once this research is done, it’s time to shop around and speak to CRM providers and explain your requirements. Be sure to experience demonstrations of the software, read customer case studies and seek testimonials from customers. It’s also very important to factor cost in terms of the efficiency the CRM will bring, rather than just the upfront cost. This will heavily depend on how specialised and relevant the CRM software is to your sector and situation. The right CRM will be able to provide automation to many processes saving time and money.

SubscriberCRM will visit your organisation to review your current processes and systems to gain a deeper understanding and ensure our software is the right fit for you. We then help tailor your instance, create custom profiles as well as assist with data preparation and migration via our consultancy services. We also provide both on and offsite training, depending on your preference and then provide ongoing support should you need it. In addition, our consultancy services can regularly review and analyse your processes to help keep it on track and ensure you are benefiting from all the functions available.

* It’s also important to note that we will never sell your data or pass it on to third parties.

What are the risks?

Nobody likes change, especially when it affects others and can carry with it financial risk and commitment of resources. More often than not it’s the unknown that can lead people to make a misinformed decision that can be costly in the long run.

The time spent when considering a CRM should be viewed as an investment as it’s always useful to review your current processes whether you decide to adopt or switch CRMs or not. Afterall, existing processes may be the result of an institutionalised, age old workflow that is now inefficient and outdated. It may be more costly not to explore your options!

Buy-in for a new way of working needs to come from the purchaser/decision maker, managers and all users of the software, as everyone will be affected by the change (and reap the benefits of improvements the change could bring!). Minimising risk means researching your current workflow (as discussed), shopping around and talking to providers and ensuring your needs match what is on offer. This is where the assigned Project Leader can help minimise disruption and gain insight from multiple teams in an organised methodical fashion. They can ensure nobody goes unheard and can be the single point of contact for all involved. Often the people that would use the software are not the ultimate decision makers with the seniority to implement change. This is why a Project Leader is crucial to review the whole process and help minimise risk through effective communication.

A bad experience with a previous CRM may also be the cause for concern or if a CRM system has never been used, its highly likely that the benefits aren’t even known. If this is the case, there really is nothing to lose in having a look around and experiencing some demonstrations.

It’s imperative that NFPs shop around to get the best value for money and ensure their work processes can be improved by the CRM to maximise efficiency and most importantly, strengthen their cause.

As an NFP, you may also be eligible for funding via a range of grants that can go towards the cost of a CRM and should be investigated thoroughly.

Am I committed?

Finding and implementing a CRM requires a commitment of time, research and shopping around. There will also be the transition of data, training and adoption from all required departments. As discussed, this is made easier by appointing a Project Leader.

In terms of committing to the CRM itself will all depend on the CRM supplier you go with as some require long term commitment, whereas others offer more flexibility. Whilst it is never a good idea to sign up long term to something new, the adoption of a CRM should be viewed as a long-term strategy due to the research and integration time required.

A good CRM provider should work with you in the early stages to ensure their system is right for you, and then continually support and address any concerns you may have with either the day to day functionality, integration and overall suitability of the platform.

For those that have never tried a CRM or don’t understand the functionality available, we would strongly suggest a free demonstration.

For those who say they don’t want a CRM, we would still recommend you give it a try, after all, you will either be proved right, or have your life improved!

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