Companies go to great lengths to offer their customers an individualized experience; to make shopping easy for the buyer and hope he leaves in a good mood and feeling important. They realize that it is 10 times more costly to get a new customer than it is to keep a present one. The fact that customization of your CRM setup is important is a truism. Of course it is and not just for your customers but also for your own employees. It’s also unavoidable because each business even within the same sector is different in some way and standard CRM packages simply have to be customized to adapt to different business practices.
Businesses are prepared to go to great lengths to customize their CRM in the hope that their efforts will contribute to the bottom-line and a faster ROI on their CRM investment will be achieved. When companies are prepared to spend on technology and integration, they do not want to hold back on customization that would help them address the business requirement of their vertical market.
However, customization brings its own pains to a CRM deployment and even the most assiduously charted customization plan can fall victim to the unforeseen hazard. A major problem with customizing your CRM system is to strike a balance between customizing for your staff and being able to do so for your customers as well. These are time-consuming initiatives and often you have to drop some elements of one in favor of another. For example, adding a new language to the CRM system for customers in a new market can lead to added work at the back end of the CRM chain and also problems with centralizing the data. Customizing to improve efficiency of the sales force, lowering the cost of products and services and at the same time offering a memorable customer experience can be a difficult thing to achieve.
One common problem that recurs with customized CRM packages is that maintenance too has to be customized and vendor suggested best practices may not work. Also, every time an upgrade is released, the company may not necessarily be in the best position to incorporate that upgrade in their customized system.
When customization is embarked upon, companies need to take a call on what legacy systems should be made a part of the customization process. What compounds the issue further is that the ROI for This is important from the point of view of trying to obtain the desired ROI from the legacy systems. It’s a bit of a quandary that companies are faced with; you actually improve your chances of getting a better ROI on your investments if you can offer your customers an individual experience but the time and effort required to do so adds to the TCO.
CRM vendors have been quick to take note of the fact that companies are increasingly looking for ease of customization and there are already CRM packages that are tailored to meet the unique demands of various verticals which enables companies to implement these systems at a lower cost and fewer risks. Vendors are also bundling integration packages with their CRM offering in order to alleviate integration pains with legacy systems. In fact, the days of vanilla CRM packages are fast fading and along with the applications it is the sophisticated toolset provided for customization and integration that attracts a buyer’s interest.
When customizing your CRM deployment to best suit your business setup, it is worthwhile to know where to stop. Ease of use and upgrades should both be kept in mind. A database of the extent to which the customized fields are being used should be maintained. This should help in reviewing the performance of the customized portions some time down the line. Customization code can then be tweaked to either add or eliminate fields.