As much as every business leader wishes there were more hours in the workday, time is one thing that’s beyond even the best manager’s remit. Thankfully, you can use CRM automation to automate workflows and give your team more time to do high-value functions instead of menial tasks.

What Is CRM Automation?

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a tool that performs a wide range of business functions, such as:

  • Contact management
  • Lead management
  • Lead scoring
  • Record management
  • Email marketing 
  • Data capture and analysis

CRM automation involves configuring the system according to your company’s processes and procedures. You set up the workflow conditions (usually with if/then statements) and the software triggers specific actions based on the programming. An example would be configuring the CRM to trigger emailing a new contact as soon as they sign up and personalizing the message with their name.

Leaders, salespeople and customer service teams can automate large portions of their workflows. By minimizing manual processes, you avoid costly human errors and free up the workforce to focus on delivering the extraordinary customer experience consumers have come to expect.

CRM Automation vs. Marketing Automation

On the surface, marketing automation and CRM automation sound similar, but they perform different functions. They’re both powerful tools that can help your business cut costs and increase profitability.

Marketing automation is focused on processes relating to engaging prospects and nurturing them into leads. CRM automation helps sales teams effectively manage leads, convert them into customers and inspire long-term loyalty. 

Let’s look at some core differences: 

  • Purpose: With marketing automation, you use predefined conditions and triggers to automate tasks, such as email nurtures, social media management, ad management and visitor tracking. Sales automation in CRM is oriented toward assigning tasks, database management and refining sales processes.
  • Scope: A marketing automation platform’s primary functions are generating leads, making marketers more efficient, and accurately measuring the marketing department’s contribution to ROI. CRM automation improves customer experience, streamlines sales processes and boosts productivity.   

While these two platforms are distinct from each other, it is ideal to have them at least integrate with each other, but even better, be a part of the same overall offering with a shared database and login. This approach can unify your teams and save you money.  

Benefits of CRM Automation

CRM automation helps you streamline your entire operation by reducing manual input and low-level tasks. However, its advantages aren’t limited to processes and procedures. It also improves customer service by providing agents with instant access to customer data and speeding up response times.

Your sales reps can use sales automation in CRM to offer seamless, customized service, using high-level data about each customer. Likewise, customer support teams can use it to identify and resolve queries and complaints more efficiently and effectively.  

Faster Customer Service 

Woman providing customer service with help from CRM automation.

Automation tools allow customer service reps to instantly access customer data, so they can respond to service issues in a confident and knowledgeable manner. What’s more, these tools allow your company to provide 24/7 access to support without the need to have people working around the clock.

For many customers, not having a way to contact your business on their own terms leads to frustration and has a drastic impact on customer experience. If they have an easy way to leave details of their issue and request a response within a reasonable timeframe, it leaves them with a significantly better impression of your company.

A major bonus for your company is the practically unlimited amount of data a CRM with automation can capture. You can measure and assess this data to learn in-depth insights about your target market to refine and personalize your sales processes, forecasting capabilities and marketing campaigns for the future.

Examples of how CRM automation can speed up customer service include:

  • Chatbots that offer instant answers to frequently asked questions, record customer details, escalate requests to a relevant team player, and allow chatters to open up support tickets from within a chat
  • Automated management of requests for product guides, online resources, whitepapers, e-books and other content 
  • Sending welcome, thank you and follow-up emails to contacts
  • Combining data across a range of channels, such as social media, calls, chatbot and email, to give agents a bird’s-eye view of each lead

Richer Data Analytics and Reports 

While CRM automation is brilliant for its ability to improve communication between your team and customers and make the overall customer experience better, it has an exceptional bonus feature. Because it automatically stores every bit of data related to prospects, leads, sales activities, deals and performance, it lets you generate high-level reports to facilitate accurate decision-making.

A top CRM lets you generate specific reports relating to every core KPI, such as revenue generated, calls made and deals closed, for each rep across any period. You can zoom out and look at organizational or team performance, or zoom in on specific areas of individual performance. Artificial intelligence (AI) tools can then automate suggestions that help sales reps make decisions, rather than forcing them to rely on instinct.  

Task Tracking

Sales reps often end up with enormous to-do lists, and reducing the number of menial tasks frees them up to build relationships and sell. Task tracking removes the responsibility of remembering to perform low-level tasks and ensures they’re all completed according to a schedule. In many cases, there are specific times when leads are more receptive to being contacted or reading content, and automation ensures your company consistently meets these conditions.

As a leader, task tracking simultaneously provides you with an overview of each rep’s output throughout the workday. Certain tasks that are performed by reps will trigger automated next steps, and you’ll have visibility over progress. Additionally, you’ll be able to instantly access data such as:

  • Calls made
  • Emails sent
  • Schedules meetings
  • Conversations
  • Conversions
  • Follow-ups
  • Proposals sent
  • Daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly deal values 

Increased Sales Productivity

The enriched data afforded by a robust CRM automation system and strategy has a positive impact on sales productivity. CRM software uses automation to comb through, filter, structure and input data in a fraction of the time it would take a person. Making predictions and forecasts, transcribing conversations, qualifying leads and moving them through the sales pipeline are complex, time-consuming tasks that a CRM can automate. 

Not only does this save sales reps time and increase the accuracy and specificity of the data gathered, it also means reps can offer a truly personalized service. The information they glean from the CRM gives them an unparalleled understanding of buyer intent, allowing them to consistently develop a rapport and establish trust with each lead. This allows reps to focus on prospects who are most likely to buy and increase conversion rates across all channels.  

Plus, it’s easy for people to forget small but important bits of information, but a CRM never forgets. Does your lead’s daughter play soccer? What’s his Starbucks order? Does she root for the Vikings? Recording these notes in the CRM means that you can offer a personal touch on the next contact. And the one after that. As such, fewer deals slip through the net as a result of human forgetfulness. Also, should a rep leave your organization, that knowledge doesn’t leave with him or her.  

Does CRM Automation Really Work?

You might have heard fellow leaders complain about CRM automation not working or not being as intuitive as they hoped. However, the key to the successful implementation of a CRM system lies in effective onboarding and training. 

When you set up a CRM with support from the vendor and ensure every employee who uses it is trained and confident in its purpose and use, it can increase sales, refine lead management, improve customer service and bolster company-wide organization. Remember that the most effective systems incorporate CRM and marketing functions and have the added benefit of improving teamwork between sales and marketing departments. 

Who Should Leverage CRM Automation?

Pretty much any company that sells a product or offers a service can benefit from CRM automation. As long as your company has established enough processes and gathered enough data to make use of CRM software, it can benefit. Some industries in particular sing the praises of the software and its functionality:

  • Retail and e-commerce
  • Healthcare
  • Financial services
  • Hospitality
  • Real estate

While these industries rely heavily on their customer databases for leads and conversions, they’re far from the only ones that can benefit. In fact, if you have mature company and business data, you can take advantage of a CRM to run your operation more efficiently and effectively.

No matter how big or small your company is, CRM automaton can improve the output of any department, such as:

  • Sales 
  • Marketing
  • Management
  • Human resources
  • Customer service 

The most useful CRM tools also have integrations to accommodate any existing software that’s working well. That might be with existing accounting, HR and operations systems. 

Choosing a CRM Automation Tool

When choosing a CRM, there are some critical considerations to make. Let’s look at the most important questions. Should you:

  • Go cloud-based? A cloud-based tool doesn’t require that you have a dedicated server or any technical knowledge to operate it. On-premises CRMs tend to cost more and require significantly more maintenance on your end. 
  • Worry about integrations? The whole point of a CRM is that it reduces the amount of work you and your team need to do. It should easily connect to your existing HR, finance, billing and marketing apps to maximize functionality and productivity.
  • Ask for training? If a company offers a CRM solution but doesn’t have a range of support packages to suit your needs, it’s probably not worth investing in. 
  • Choose customizable? CRM admins need to be able to customize their CRM according to business needs and goals. That involves creating custom objects, fields, calculations, rules and views.
  • Look for a mobile app? In today’s hybrid work environment, being able to manage your CRM on the go is crucial. Legacy systems are often limited to desktop only, and that’s not viable for most companies today.  
  • Consider every feature? While most CRMs offer basic functions, you should look for platforms that go the extra mile with advanced tools, such as relationship linking, milestone tracking, custom app building and drag-and-drop dashboards.  
  • Look for specific security features? Data security is critical in today’s world, so you need to make sure your CRM uses effective authentication protocols and data encryption and keeps your company compliant with privacy laws.    
  • Request a free trial? Always opt for a CRM that lets you try before you buy. 

How To Set Up CRM Automation

The setup period is the most critical time when implementing CRM automation, and the company you partner with should offer a range of support options. It’s important to note that most businesses that say CRM automation isn’t adding as much value as they hoped have cut corners during the setup. 

This initial period is likely to involve spending more time on CRM functions than previously, but that shouldn’t put decision-makers off. There are five things you should focus on when setting up CRM automation:

  1. Planning and documenting processes 
  2. Integrating existing systems
  3. Processes to help you manage data and retain and clean database
  4. Creating backups
  5. Thoroughly training everyone who’s going to use the system 

Once the setup is complete, you’ll reap the time-saving, value-adding rewards. Let’s look at some of the top processes you’ll want to automate as soon as possible:

  • Automatically segmenting contacts into separate emails lists based on product interest and past purchases
  • Triggering new contact entries based on online purchases and web form submissions
  • Triggering sending emails to customers who abandon their shopping cart
  • Creating automatic follow-up reminders to ensure agents check in with prospects in a timely and consistent manner 
  • Triggering company-wide/team-wide Slack messages announcing wins

CRM Automation Best Practices

Illustration showing CRM automation.

While no two businesses use their CRM in the exact same way, there are some key best practices that apply across the board. First off, make sure your data is well-ordered and clean; otherwise, automation won’t be effective. You’ll also need to test automation scripts before deploying them, and crucially, be patient throughout the learning curve.

Implementing a sales automation CRM can take time, and you’ll need to actively manage the changes as you deploy them. Below are a few more best practices to keep in mind.   

Define a Standard CRM Automation Process

Carefully examine your organizational requirements and existing processes to get a clear picture of how automation can best serve your company. Pick out the workflows you want to optimize, define and document through standardized processes and train your team. Document your processes for future reference.

Customize Your Automation Features

It’s possible to customize the best CRM systems so they maximize the effectiveness of your unique business processes. You can also ensure reports are customized according to your KPIs, and communications are personalized for individual customers and customer segments. 

Conduct Regular Data Audits

To get maximum ROI on your investment in CRM automation, you should conduct regular audits to ensure you’re working with clean data. That means making sure there’s no duplicate, missing or outdated data. Well-kept data drastically increases your prospecting capabilities and ensures the hottest leads are prioritized and nurtured.  

Eliminate Duplication

Duplicate data can be costly for a couple of reasons. Crucially, when customers and prospects are contacted multiple times, it leads to wasted time and dissatisfied customers. Inefficiency and poor customer experience have a serious negative impact on your bottom line, so be sure to take active steps to identify and eliminate duplicate records. 

Be Prepared To Adjust Your Practices

There’s nothing more harmful than being too rigid when implementing a new system. If something isn’t working with your system, don’t be afraid to admit it needs to change and pivot accordingly.  

Provide Thorough Training

Even if you and your leadership team find a CRM tool to be intuitive and easy to use, you can’t expect the entire workforce to feel that way. Most people require step-by-step training to understand how to use something new and to reduce the natural anxiety people experience during times of change.  

Frequently Asked Questions About CRM Automation

What Are the Steps of CRM implementation?

To successfully implement a CRM and CRM automation, you should follow these steps:

  • Sell the tool to your workforce: Just as you need to convince customers to buy your product, you should sell a new system to your team to encourage them to use it. 
  • Design a strategy: Without a strategy and metrics to help you measure its effectiveness, you’ll waste time and implementation won’t be as efficient. 
  • Establish processes: You should create and document processes, so any new team member can quickly get up to speed with how to use CRM automation.
  • Keep up with trends: Ensure you and your leadership team stays up to date with current trends to ensure you’re one step ahead of your competitors. 

How Can You Use a CRM To Manage Customer Relationships?

While improving processes and reducing inefficiency is a core function of CRM automation, it can also drastically improve customer experience. It lets you:

  • Identify high-value customers 
  • Obtain background information to deliver personalized service
  • Differentiate one group of customers from another
  • Remember information about prospects, specific customers and segments to refine future campaigns

If you’re ready to see just how much CRM automation can positively impact your sales and customer service, Insightly is ready to help. We can guide and support your teams as you implement the CRM best practices mentioned above for improved sales and standout customer service. Start a free trial or get a personalized demo today.

The post How CRM Automation Can Improve Sales & Customer Service appeared first on Insightly.