Building a bespoke CRM for your business is a complex undertaking. There are often many requirements to meet and short-term customer engagement usually takes precedence. Yet, what about the long-term possibilities? Have reporting needs been fully explored?
When a custom CRM is well mapped out from the outset, it should provide added value for customers on delivery and well into the future.
This may seem like the sole responsibility of your chosen software development company, but all development is a two way process and if future reporting capabilities are overlooked in the planning phase of development, you may be missing out on future opportunities to add even more value to your customers.
The more you know about your customers, the more you can tailor your offerings and give them what they are looking for. So, perhaps think about your CRM as THE place to truly understand AND engage with your customers.
There are many to choose from, so it’s important to spend time researching and selecting a professional and experienced software development company.
Spend time looking at their reviews, case studies, previous clients and ideally undertake a tendering process.
How development can restrict future reporting
One of the most common mistakes is the overuse of free text fields i.e. fields where the information is not selected from a pre-set drop-down list of options. Without fixed data fields, reporting on this information will be near impossible!
Another area might be the communications you send out. If you would like to know if a customer took any action as a result of the communication, you will need functionality in place to log this on their customer record.
Ultimately, if your CRM does not contain the information you are looking to report on…you won’t be able to!
Make time for data mapping
Whilst you may have considered reporting to some degree, it is extremely useful to give this area a considerable amount of attention. Don’t just think about what you need now, think about what would be useful to know in the future, for example, customer trends.
Look at this through all aspects of the business – from sales and marketing through to product or service development.
Some questions to explore might include:
- What information would be useful to know about your customers? E.g. Their location – country, town, postcode or perhaps all of the above? Their age? Their profession? How they found/heard about your business?
- How impactful is a certain feature? E.g. How often they click on your special offer communications?
- How popular is a certain product or service?
- What trends would be useful to see over time? E.g. how often customers buy from you? Why they choose to not renew/buy somewhere else (depending on the products and services you offer)? How much they spend?
Standard Reporting Requirements
One of the very basic things you will want to be able to do is analyse data based on a timeframe – by year, month, days of the week and maybe even times of the day. The best way to cover all bases here to go as broad as possible. When it comes to reporting, it is better to have too many possibilities than too little!
The value of reporting
When you can analyse specific customer data over a period of time, you can adapt and change how you communicate, what you offer and how you develop your business.
Let’s face it, the current business climate is fast moving, so it has become essential for businesses to stay ahead of the game and pre-empt change rather than just respond to it. Data is at the very core of how flexible and dynamic your business can be in the face of change.
For example, if you see overtime your customer demographic is changing, you can adjust your approach and provide more relevant information, communications, products or services to ensure they receive what is most useful to them.
Whilst it is not a complete disaster if you miss a field out, it does make it quite messy to add/change fields later, especially if they are complex and linked to or restricted by other functions. Not to mention the additional time and money you will need to invest.
It is simply much easier to do the necessary planning work from the beginning and thoroughly map out your future requirements.