CRM Integration Best Practice: Don’t put the cart before the horse

Have you ever heard this saying? Don’t put the cart before the horse!

Don't put the cart before the Horse
The picture illustrates quite clearly why putting the cart before the horse doesn’t get you anywhere. The same applies when you are you're implementing your CRM integrations.

Organizations often think that if they invest in expensive implementation and have heavily customised engineering efforts, they immediately make the assumption they are going to make savings they want to make. But the truth is, without an integrated solution with other databases within your organisation, some complex challenges might rear their ugly heads.

The ugly head

For example, if you have at some point implemented a CRM system for your organization, you might have found yourself in these situations:

  • "We never build our applications to be data-integration-friendly."
  • "We never standardised on a single database product."
  • "We keep changing the applications."
  • "Our applications don't agree on fundamental things."
  • "The data is dirty."
  • "SOA makes it all worse."
  • "Data warehouse systems don't work fast enough."
  • "There is more than one integration system."
  • "There's no metadata warehouse."
And as the picture above demonstrates, this is like putting the cart before the horse because you haven't considered the implications of having different systems needing to talk to each other.

So, in order to approach CRM integration successfully, an organization must LISTEN, THEN SERVE.

Why ‘Listen, then serve’?

So, how do you listen, then serve in the technical sense? Well, it's easy. Test and map your customers journey with the key goals of better customer experiences. And this is why it matters.

Harley Manning
This is why you should make every transaction on your local authority website count. 

Making every interaction count

Since most of public sector digital interactions with customers on their websites are transactional, this means that most of it is automated. So in laymen terms, the 'conversation' you're having with a customer when their on your website is the transaction itself, which in turn means the transaction IS the interaction or conversation you're having with them. And if they are not happy with the interaction, this means it would have failed to deliver a good customer experience.

And another reason to pay attention to this is because it relates closely to channel shift. If you can create positive customer experiences using digital services, word-of-mouth of those services will spread faster than any campaign you'd ever create. This, coupled with a robust channel shift strategy, can multiply the impact it will have on your bottom line.
Jeff Bezos quote
Achieving CRM integration key goals without breaking the bank

So if you wanted to improve your digital services through CRM integration, you will need to engage with customers at an affordable level and build the data and the competencies to analyze and react and then determine what is going to work for you then scale up. This will effectively make your return of investment (ROI) is contingent on what you learn and how you react, which is a good practice to follow for its incremental feedback and benefits. Here is an example of how this could work for you.

The challenge

For example, in many enterprise vendors have legacy platforms that do not take an API first approach and are therefore difficult to integrate with, making even straightforward integration tasks challenging and expensive.

The solution

Find the simplest ways to achieve the goal without making initial large software investments to prove the case. This is often called ‘Alpha’ testing. You can also choose to implement a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ to prove the business case for further development. See other challenges and solution that may arise in your CRM integration here.

Why successful CRM integrations can improve digital services and customer experience

Imagine that you were able to create a 'set of application and methods' that make each and every customer experiences over time and across all moments of interaction / transaction, into tangible business advantage? Wouldn't you want that?

We all know that most public sector organizations datastreams that paint the complete customer picture exist in silos. Parking department collects parking fines data. The waste collection collects recycling data. The tax department collects tax payments and so on. This can often create choas with stakeholders in different silos seeing only a part of the elephant. Without integrating the datastreams, it's difficult to know where to focus in order improve the experience. And this is why it's important to have a 'framework' to integrate all the moving parts, so you can deliver a better experience for your customers.

There are many examples here that help local authorities overcome the challenges they face due to the lack of an effective CRM integration 'framework'. These examples include Oracle CRM, Lagan CRM, Sugar CRM, Microsoft Dynamic CRM, Salesforce.com and Jadu Q.

Read more on approaches to delivering integration with CRM and how to achieve efficiency and maximise customer value from your established back office systems. 

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