7 CRM Best Practices 2024 (With Famous Company Examples)

Date:Thursday, July 11, 2024

A CRM is a platform with loads of benefits, but it depends, first and foremost, on how you use it. To take full advantage of CRM systems and practices, there are some golden rules to follow.

This guide will walk you through setting data standards, leveraging automation, and enhancing customer experiences to ensure your team can make the most out of your CRM. By following these CRM best practices, you can streamline operations, improve data accuracy, and foster collaboration across your team, ultimately driving your business forward and maximizing your CRM's potential.

If you want to learn more about the best practices for CRM, you've landed on the right page.


6 CRM best practices to improve the quality of your CRM data

Count them down: 6 ultimate rules to make sure you squeeze every ounce of efficiency and productivity out of your CRM. These CRM best practices help you maintain the highest quality of your data. They also make sure that everyone on your team keeps up with all the various tools and features on offer. 

As a bonus, we'll give some real-world examples of famous companies and talk about how they make use of these CRM best practices.  

1. Be clear on why you're using a CRM

Whenever we begin a new project or use a new tool, it's a good idea to define our goals. This may seem like pretty abstract advice for a CRM best practice. But really, it's not that different from any new business laying out its aims and objectives.

So, the first thing you need to do is identify your goals or even problems and find a CRM that can help you out with those. Here are some questions you should ask when choosing a CRM. Are you looking just for contact management features? Do you need something with project management features? Will your team benefit from additional features, such as email marketing automation?

Whether a new CRM is just for sales or for marketing or customer support, clarity of purpose is important. While you cannot expect a CRM solution to transform your whole operation magically, you can and should expect to see improvements. Just be realistic, monitor progress, and be ready to adapt as the results trickle in.

So, before you make any investments, make sure to inform yourself how to choose a CRM for your specific business needs.


2. Don't skimp on CRM implementation

Like any brand-new tool, it takes time and effort to learn how to master it. A lot of new CRMs are aiming to be ready out of the box. Still, it's worth it to go slow at first, especially if it's going to be a large team using a new CRM. What's more, the best CRMs offer customization options. You should begin to tweak these right away after implementation to best suit your needs.

Many great CRM software will walk you through demos. Most vendors offer free trials, and some even offer a completely free CRM app or software to take advantage of. Also, don’t forget about open source CRM, which can be super useful and free of charge.

Premium CRM plans can even get you live implementation assistance. Medium to larger businesses surely could leverage that setup help. This also includes data migration. During any implementation period, you need to consolidate customer information from several other platforms.   

You'll also want to make sure each department knows its unique set of tools. This goes for marketing, salespeople and customer service reps, among others. For large companies, it's good to have a point person for the CRM implementation. This person can keep track of its effectiveness and help employees learn the CRM tools.

Example of a company doing CRM implementation right

  • Car companies like Toyota or BMW have been around long before CRMs existed. When implementing a CRM, a company like Toyota takes the time to choose the right platform and train all its employees on its functionality. Had car companies tried to rush implementation, they'd be failing to take full advantage of all its benefits and would fall behind their competition.


3. Set a data standard

Once onboarding and implementation are done, you need to think about customer data and metrics. What's important here is to set data entry standards so that they're consistent across the board. Not all departments will need the same kind of data, nor will they analyze it using the same KPIs and metrics.

But CRMs are great for giving everyone in an organization full transparency.

With a CRM system, you can automate what kind of customer information you'd like to use. It can search social media like LinkedIn and gather contact information. It might focus on the company and roles or contact details like email and phone numbers. These details are an especially important link between marketing efforts and sales teams.   

It's also a good idea for very small businesses and startups to set data standards as part of their early CRM strategy. This way, nothing gets lost or obscured when the companies scale up. Some of the best CRMs for small business can help you get this done in no time.

Example of a company benefiting from consistent CRM data

  • Tourism meta-search engine Expedia has offices all over the world. They have massive departments working in marketing, sales, and support. Expedia would fail to benefit from CRM unified data insights without a standard data practice across all their offices. Marketing would be less targeted, and support would be slower and less effective.


4. Automation is key

One of the great inventions of CRM solutions is automation. There are so many ways a CRM can take over repetitive tasks for sales reps and other staff. The huge benefit here is that you can focus on higher-level activities and less on data entry. This means better marketing campaigns, more sales, and a superior customer experience. 

Automation can be simple, like getting notifications and reminders. They can be workflows for chatbots and other automated messaging services. Marketing automation can target ads to the right silos. It's easy to move leads through the pipeline when several steps in the sales lifecycle are automated. You can set up workflows to auto-route incoming emails to specific reps. Similarly, customer support requests can also be auto-routed this way.

There are more complex business process automation, too. You get these in CRMs that are part of larger ERPs. This is more of a best practice for large businesses and enterprises. Finally, automation keeps your data up-to-date in real time. This is key for getting the most from reporting.

An example of a company automating its ways to success

  • Tushy is a newish brand making a big splash. They have a huge social media marketing presence. In order to take advantage of all the reactions and engagements their ads generate, they can rely on CRM automation. This means fewer missed deals, less customer churn, and more up-selling opportunities as reminders and other pipeline workflows are automated.


5. Leverage analytics

One of the good things about customer relationship software is analytics. A lot of activity goes on in a company or organization. This activity is spread among many departments. CRM solutions are able to translate that disparate activity into something usable to everyone, from the CEOs to individual reps.

You can customize your analytics and reporting. This means you can train your reports to show you the stats you decide are most important. It could be when, where, or how potential customers become new leads. It could show you stoppages and pain points in your sales process. It could display how each sales agent is performing. Reports are great for seeing how marketing translates into profitability.

Analytics and reporting are equally as useful for ERPs. They can monitor inventories, supply chains, and production processes. They can also help plan deliverables and shipping. Finally, analytics are forward-looking. The right CRM can help spot trends in the market. This is great for the research and development of new products, goods, and services. 

Example of a company leveraging the insights of analytics

  • Financial services is another industry where CRM systems make a big difference. Wealth management firm Raymond James, for example, is always looking to tweak its outreach when looking for new clients. Having real-time data reporting can tell a firm like Raymond James when, where and how to direct their sales efforts. It can also be used to gamify their sales departments.


6. Think of the customer experience

To maximize the benefits of your CRM, it's essential to focus on enhancing the customer experience. This not only simplifies the lives of your employees but also significantly boosts customer satisfaction and retention. Here are some CRM best practices to optimize the customer journey:

  1. Personalized Interactions: Use CRM data to personalize every interaction with your customers. Tailor your communication and offers based on their purchase history, preferences, and behavior. This creates a more engaging and relevant customer experience.

  2. Proactive Customer Service: Implement CRM tools to anticipate customer needs and address issues before they escalate. Use data analytics to predict potential problems and reach out to customers proactively, improving their overall experience and increasing loyalty.

  3. Streamlined Customer Journey: Map out the customer journey and identify touchpoints where your CRM can enhance the experience. Automate processes such as follow-ups, feedback requests, and personalized recommendations to ensure a seamless and enjoyable journey for your customers.

  4. Integrated Self-Service Options: Enable customers to help themselves through self-service portals, FAQs, and knowledge bases. These features allow customers to find answers to common questions and check order statuses without needing to contact support, freeing up your team to handle more complex issues.

  5. Consistent Multi-Channel Communication: Ensure that your CRM supports consistent and integrated communication across multiple channels, including email, social media, and phone. This ensures that customers receive the same level of service and information regardless of how they choose to interact with your company.

Example of a company thinking of CRMs and the customer experience

  • A company like Zappos uses its CRM to deliver exceptional customer service by integrating various touchpoints and ensuring that every customer interaction is personalized and consistent. By analyzing customer data, Zappos can anticipate customer needs, offer relevant product recommendations, and provide proactive support, leading to high customer satisfaction and retention rates.


7. Focus on Collaboration

A significant advantage of CRM systems is their ability to enhance collaboration across various departments. By providing a unified platform where all customer data is accessible, CRMs eliminate silos and ensure that everyone from sales to customer service to marketing is on the same page. This leads to more cohesive strategies and a seamless customer experience.

Example of a company thinking of CRMs and the customer experience

  • Coca-Cola Germany uses Salesforce to enhance collaboration across its departments. With Salesforce, all team members from bottling locations to field reps can access and share customer data in real time. This connectivity allows Coca-Cola to address customer issues promptly and efficiently, ensuring a high level of service and operational efficiency. The integration of custom mobile apps and real-time data access has led to significant improvements in productivity and customer satisfaction


How to implement customer relationship management automation processes in your business

Getting started with a CRM system isn't always instantaneous. One of the lengthiest parts is setting up automations. It's a good idea to follow a demo and practice with simple workflows. When doing CRM comparison shopping, see which vendors offer trials and demos to help implement CRM automation easily.


Customer relationship management best practices: Our conclusion

In business, there are no firm and fixed rules for doing anything. Move fast and break things they say, sure. Where would we be if everyone followed the same playbook?

Yet, when it comes to CRMs, there sure are best practices. A CRM will never replace a company's most precious asset: its people. It's a tool, at best, an aid. It extends our technical capacities, allowing us to do more marketing and selling and offer better support. And each tool has its user manual. We hope this article serves as the only manual you'll need to use your CRM best.