You’ve developed a new product, something quite different from your standard offering. You are convinced that your current customers are potential targets but you need some additional information to qualify the opportunity at each customer. Many of our clients immediately turn to their installed CRM application and develop a way to capture the needed information – a customer profile.
Unfortunately, this is the way that many of the CRM applications we encounter have been made overly complicated and difficult to use. So instead of being a productive step toward the new product launch, just the opposite effect is experienced. The profile isn’t completed for many customers and the seeds have been planted that will eventually make the CRM application so difficult to use and upgrade that it will have to be abandoned.
Most of this heartache can be avoided with some planning and discipline. Before you add any new section or tab to your CRM application ask yourself some very important questions.
- Should all customer types be profiled?
- What is the purpose of this field?
- Is that important enough to add it to my CRM application?
- Is it directly related to my overall goal of selling the new product?
- Is there a better way to achieve the purpose?
- Is the field required or conditionally required?
- What type of data will be in this field?
- How will the data be entered into the field?
- Is there an easy way to get it
- How will the accuracy of the data be verified?
- For pick lists – can the list expand or contract and how will that be controlled?
- For calculated fields will the results be stored? Will the calculations ever change?
Next, ask key questions about access.
- Who will be adding data?
- Who will be viewing the data?
- Who should NOT be able to view the data?
- Can anyone remove the data?
- Is the ability to remove the data tied to any other event – such as time
- What kind of reports and analytics will be needed that include the data?
Finally, ask key questions about persistence.
- How long will this data be valid?
- Will it need to be refreshed, revalidated?
- Who will determine the half-life of the profile if there is one?
Having asked and received the answers to these questions will ensure that the final development is a small and easy to use as possible.
This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career. He is a certified sales and sales management trainer. He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.