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11 March 2020

How to Build a CRM System from Scratch

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Every dollar invested in CRM gives nine dollars in profit. However, this is true only if the integrated system meets the needs and specifics of a particular business, which does not always happen: 70% of CRM implementations fail. The main reasons for most failures are the desire to spare and the wrong approach to development.

The desire to spare is expressed in the fact that for the sake of imaginary savings, entrepreneurs prefer finished products instead of creating a unique software solution that will take into account all the features of a particular business and its target audience.

The main disadvantages of ready-made solutions:

  1. Insufficient integration. All ready-made CRM is a mass consumption product that can be integrated into the existing business only superficially. The difference between a template and a unique product is the same as between a factory-made and bespoke costume.

  2. Too many functions. Since ready-made CRM solutions should be suitable for a wide range of users (various types of businesses), they have a huge number of functions and options built in, most of which remain unclaimed. It’s like selling a smartphone with a thousand pre-installed applications that the user may need sometime in the future - it requires a lot of resources, inconvenient and more expensive than it could be.

  3. Many additional fields. A large number of fields and icons on the user interface goes from the large number of options and functions, the mere presence of which will annoy people. That is why web designers strive for minimalism.

  4. Improper UI / UX Design. The developers of ready-made CRM have a difficult task - they have to create a product that everyone will like. This is impossible to do, so the developers refuse some target audiences in favor of the majority. And it’s quite possible that your audience is one of those compromises.

  5. Difficult to stand out. All template solutions are similar, which is very bad from a marketing point of view. Studies show that original design increases brand awareness, customer engagement and loyalty.

To avoid these shortcomings, experts recommend to develop CRM systems from scratch. Below you will find a guide on how to do this correctly, avoiding most of the possible problems. Here is an article about how to choose the best web design agency.

Step 1: Choose the type, role and platform

Before you start developing CRM from scratch, you need to answer a few important questions that will help you decide on the scope and the set of necessary functions of the final product.

Types of CRM-systems

Operational — optimization and automation of sales, customer service and marketing. This type of CRM application is suitable for business that interacts with customers through call centers, blogs, websites, communities, direct mail and direct sales.

Operational CRM applications are built around telephone conversations and correspondence of your team with customers

The main features of the operating CRM-systems:

  1. Unified customer database for convenient and quick access of all employees to data on all past and planned interactions with each client.

  2. Use of a large number of communication channels: e-mail, social networks, phone calls, personal account, personal conversations in the office and branches of the company.

  3. Registration, processing and execution of all client requests and saving the necessary data in the billing system.

  4. Constant analysis of customer interactions and generation of reports to solve organizational problems, for example, segmentation of customers based on their importance.

  5. Distribution of tasks, typical scenarios of interaction separately with current and potential customers and automation of the processing of applications.

Analytical — collecting information from multiple touch points with the client and processing this data. The main goal of such a CRM is to help organize daily (operational) work with clients and form analytics for developing and planning customer interaction scenarios.

The main features of analytical CRM-systems:

Strategic — improving communication and teamwork within the company. Joint CRM helps to unite several departments of the company (sales, marketing, technical support) to achieve a common goal - the use of accumulated data to improve the quality of service, loyalty and attract new customers.

Some CMR applications may translate marketing data into action

An example of internal communication is the usual situation when employees of a call center of an online store ring up current and potential customers asking questions about the listing of goods and the quality of service. According to the results of the customer survey, missing goods are purchased and some functions are added (or removed).

Combined — these are usually operational CRM applications with a limited set of analytical tools (reports on clients, sales analytics and performers performance), as well as the ability to directly communicate with clients and colleagues through integration with instant messengers, social networks and the site.

Roles in CRM-systems

When you add a user to a CRM system, you assign a certain role to his account, for example, a seller, manager, leader or administrator. Each role assumes that the account has certain rights and capabilities necessary to perform the assigned tasks.

So, if this is the manager's role, the account will have these functions:

When developing CRM systems, it is important to immediately create several templates for typical roles (for example, "Owner", "Storekeeper", "Manager 1", "Manager 2", "Full Access", "Advanced Access", etc.) and while also adding the ability to create and customize roles. Which roles users can create should depend on the level of access. Thus, the “Senior Manager” can create accounts with the “Manager” role, but at the same time cannot add another “Senior Manager” or “Owner” to the system.

Supported Platforms

The choice of platform depends on the equipment of the company for which the CRM system is being created. In most cases, these are personal computers and laptops running on Windows and macOS operating systems, less often Linux or DOS. In the past few years, there has also been a trend towards mobilizing CRM applications.

The advantages of CRM-applications with support for mobile platforms:

  1. More accurate data. The ability to enter information into the system from any place at any time reduces the delay between the event and the input of information about the event (data relevance). In addition, there will be less problems with memory errors.

  2. Higher efficiency. Mobile devices allow you to switch between different devices and keep the right information in front of your eyes. This increases efficiency and saves time.

  3. More acceptance. People are accustomed to the phone in hand and the constant access to the necessary information. Using this habit, you can increase the rate of adoption of a new CRM system.

  4. Better service. Mobile platform support helps reduce customer response and, at the same time, allows employees to perceive information on the fly.

Step 2: Determine CRM Functions

According to the Software Advice (research and user reviews of software applications for small and medium-sized businesses or lending platform), in the development of CRM, the required functions are contact management, customer interaction tracking and planning. The remaining functions are optional.

Most Popular CRM Functions According to Software Advice

The choice of functions of a CRM system depends on the tasks that you set for it. Typically, this is most affected by the size of the business:

  1. Private entrepreneur. Usually, single users only need a customer database to manage and track connections with them. This saves a lot of time and nerves.

  2. Small business. Larger entrepreneurs in most cases need Sales Force Automation, up to monitoring and tracking the actions of individual sales representatives.

  3. Medium business. These companies focus on sales and marketing automation. In addition, they need analytics to predict business processes and create marketing strategies.

  4. Big business. For large companies, everything is important - from sales to strategy, so they need full-fledged combined CRM-systems.

Step 3: Calculate the development budget

The cost and development time of CRM applications are influenced by many factors. The main ones are:

  1. Number of functions. The implementation of each function in the program code requires a certain number of man-hours. It is this time that the customer pays for the development company’s margin.

  2. Number of roles (access types). For example, these may be the roles of General Manager, Supervisor, Seller or Subsidiary. All these roles have different access rights and capabilities within the system, and the implementation of each of them requires man-hours.

  3. Platform support. The more of them, the higher the cost of the final software product. Mobile access can be realized either in the form of a responsive web-design browser, or in the form of a separate application (increases the total development time by 50-60%).

  4. Information input method. Managers can create and edit customer profiles manually or the system can do it automatically. The latter option requires a lot of time for implementation, and therefore significantly increases the cost of development.

  5. Events and tasks. These elements can be implemented as simple notes, contain labels and attributes, interact with invoices, track deadlines and make reminders.

  6. Sales Funnel. It can be a simple visual representation in which managers manually change the lead status. Or it could be a solution with automated business logic that moves the lead in the sales funnel and records all interactions.

  7. Interaction Reports. Regular reporting can be complemented by the ability to evaluate potential customers for their profitability and possible reaction to proposals. You can also collect data on the interaction with customers in social networks.

  8. Integration with other services. The cost of developing this feature depends on the number and complexity of third-party services.

Now consider the estimated cost and development time of each individual function of a CRM system. To roughly estimate the cost of developing CRM in your country, be guided by the time it takes to develop and the average cost per hour of a programmer in your country.

Step 4: We are looking for a technical executive

Outsourcing solutions. Hiring a development company that prepares a project, develops software, implements it in business and trains staff is a great option if you need an individual solution with a quality guarantee at a reasonable price.

Internal solutions. If the company has a team of programmers, you can use their skills to develop a CRM product. If there is no such command, you can create it - long, expensive and tedious, but it gives you complete control over the development.

Open-source software. A variety of internal development, which involves the use of open source software sources for developing on the basis of its CRM-system. So you can reduce the cost and speed up the development.

Step 5: Staff Training

If the developer of a CRM application and his user are different people, then you need to organize staff training. At the same time, training should be started some time before the deployment of a software product, so that staff already know what to do and how.

There are two ways to do this:

  1. Select a few people (the amount depends on the size of the company), who will begin to study the system in the final stages of development after most decisions about product use scenarios have been made. When such people understand what and how to do, organize several courses and write instructions for each program element.

  2. Agree with the development company to write training materials and conduct staff training. It will cost a little more, but it will not be necessary to distract employees from their official duties.

Step 6: Service Support and Improvement

Most of the bugs, glitches and design errors, as a rule, overflow even at the preliminary testing stage. But some flaws of programmers and designers always remain. Even giants such as Intel, IBM, Microsoft and Apple are not able to release a 100% workable product.

FaceTime (developed by Apple) found a bug that allows you to listen to other people's conversations. Source of the image

For the elimination of possible problems with the finished software is responsible support service, which can be organized in several ways:

  1. Call out — call a specialist by phone, email or instant messenger. The specialist arrives at the site, fixes the problem himself and receives payment for the work done.

  2. Block hours — provision of technical support from the developer for a specific period (week, month, year).

  3. Managed services — assistance within a specific list of services, such as telephone consultation or a call to the site.

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