These days, manufacturing CRM systems are commonplace. But as many businesses know to their cost, having a manufacturing CRM system is not the same as actually deriving significant benefit from that same manufacturing CRM system.The good news: it doesn’t have to be that way. Three simple tips go a long way to ensuring that your manufacturing CRM system lives up to the hopes that you had for it at the start.
Increased sales revenues, better understanding of customer buying behaviour, higher margins, greater customer loyalty—these and more besides are routinely seen by businesses possessing a manufacturing CRM system that’s operating as it should be.
How to achieve this happy state? Read on.
1) Maximise user buy-in
There’s one very fundamental difference between a manufacturing CRM system and an ERP system.
Generally speaking, those users using an ERP system have to use it, in order to get their jobs done. On the other hand, those using a manufacturing CRM system, generally speaking, are often helping other people to get their jobs done. That’s because—right across the organisation—people enter data into the CRM, all to help a small number of other people, often in other functions, do their jobs better.
Sales people, for instance. Marketing people. Customer service people. Quality people. Aftersales service people. And so on, and so on. So fairly obviously, high levels of user buy-in are a must, in order to make sure that people interact with the CRM to the fullest extent. Training helps, of course.
So does user education, so that people can see why the manufacturing CRM system matters, and exactly what it does for the business. So too does publicising the manufacturing CRM system’s successes, drawing a clear link in people’s minds between the manufacturing CRM system itself and the benefits that it brings.
2) Build smooth, simple processes
Of course, it’s not just a lack of awareness that results in users not engaging fully with manufacturing CRM systems. Complicated processes are another barrier—processes both within the CRM itself, as well as within the broader business. So it’s important to make sure that business processes are smooth, straightforward and obvious, and lend themselves to maximum participation.
How to achieve this? Here at Kerridge Commercial Systems, while we acknowledge that a lot can be done through common sense and pen and paper, we strongly recommend the additional rigour of a business process mapping or modelling exercise.
Not only does such an exercise map and optimise all the relevant processes within a business, it also helps to make sure that process ‘blind spots’ are missed—blind spots that typically occur at the interface between one business function and another, for instance, or between one enterprise application and another.
3) Make sure you’ve picked the right manufacturing CRM system
That said, both user adoption and process design are far more straightforward if the manufacturing CRM system in question is the right one for the business.
Just as with ERP, not all CRM systems are equal—indeed, not all CRM systems lend themselves to manufacturing CRM at all. So it’s important to look beyond the ‘CRM’ label, make sure that the CRM system that you’re using is one that fully meets your needs. What to look out for? Fairly obviously, a manufacturing CRM system that’s built around the needs of manufacturers, of course.
Suitability for a business-to-business or business-to-consumer business model is a must. A good match for your sales channels, for another: dealer-based, direct, web sales, telephone sales, catalogue sales, and so on.
Plus, of course, appropriate reporting and analytics capabilities. The whole purpose of a manufacturing CRM system is to understand customers better—which involves being able to get information out of your manufacturing CRM system, as well as put it in.
Put it all together, and it’s not rocket science. But even so, many companies struggle to maximise the benefits from their investment in a manufacturing CRM system. Hopefully, with these top tips, your business won’t be one of them.