The Complete Guide to CRM Integration

Before getting into the detail of CRM integration, let’s start at the beginning.
contents

1.     What is CRM?

2.     What are the most common CRM systems?

3.     What is CRM integration?

4.     What types of CRM can we integrate into our business?

        4.1  CRM email integration

        4.2  Calendar integration

        4.3  Internal team messaging integration

        4.4  Social media integration

        4.5  Marketing integration

        4.6  Accounting and billing integration

        4.7  Customer service integration

5.     Why do we need CRM integration?

        5.1  Improve product quality

        5.2  To reduce production costs

        5.3  To increase customer retention by building better relationships

        5.4  To increase reach

        5.5  To increase efficiency

6.     Challenges in CRM integration

7.     What are the main challenges in CRM integration?

        7.1  Understanding the requirements

        7.2  Data mapping

        7.3  Data accuracy

        7.4  User participation

What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and it is a technology businesses use to manage their relationships and interactions with potential customers and customers. The purpose of CRM is to improve a business’ relationships with their customers through connecting with them.

Having a CRM system means that a business can organise its relationships with individuals, whether they are customers, partners or suppliers, throughout their lifecycle with them. This includes discovering new customers, winning business with them, and providing ongoing support and services throughout the relationship.

Ultimately CRM is a way of organising and keeping track of customers’ behaviour and data. Analysis of this data allows businesses to understand their customer better. Business are therefore able to develop their product and marketing efforts more effectively, resulting in a win-win situation: customers get what they want and the business gets more sales.

What are the most common CRM systems?

The most popular CRM software in Australia include:

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Salesforce

Zoho

Streak

Hubspot

Nimble

Agile

Oracle

What is CRM integration?

Businesses use dozens of software applications – everything from email to accounting to social media tools. What this does is create silos of information that are isolated from one another. CRM integration is when CRM software can automatically connect with other business systems and applications. This saves a business a lot of time and manpower. Businesses that do not have CRM integration typically spend hours or even days on data entry; copying data from one system or application to another. This of course is not an effective use of time and can end up not only being costly, but the data is also subject to human error, meaning that the copied or manually entered data is likely to be inaccurate.

CRM process integration allows the sharing of data to happen automatically and accurately.

What types of CRM can we integrate into our business?

CRM email integration

Email marketing is one of the most effective marketing tools and an integrated CRM email system helps us to make the most of that. CRM email integration can create a history of every interaction with customers and potential customers. CRM-integrated emails can also collect data on information such as open rates and clicks. These inbound and outgoing emails can be stored in the CRM system so that we can have complete transparency across the team.  The data can also be analysed to refine and improve future email campaigns and give insight into customer behaviour.

Calendar integration

Most of us are familiar with email and calendar integration through using tools such Microsoft Outlook or Gmail. Integrating task management into your CRM system creates one calendar for everything. This way whenever an appointment is scheduled to take place in the CRM system, the task management system or any other integrated application, the primary calendar automatically updates.

Internal team messaging integration

There are many platforms that allow internal, live communication between team members. And some can be integrated with a CRM system. This enhances communication amongst the team and improves the accessibility of data too.

Social media integration

Social media companies track so much about their users’ life events including birthdays, anniversaries, job changes; all valuable information to have. Social media platforms also track how users engage with the channels. With social media integration we can have these social media leads and data feed directly into the CRM system.

Marketing integration

Integrating sales and marketing systems is hugely important in ensuring the sales and marketing team share data and stay aligned with each other’s strategies. It means that no time is wasted collecting and managing the data and a lead’s transition from the top to the bottom of the sales funnel is seamless, ultimately bringing in money for the business.

Accounting and billing

Accounting software that is not integrated with the CRM system will likely require manual data entry. Integrating the accounting software means that this becomes automatic, requiring less data entry and error, increasing productivity and accuracy.

Customer service integration

Applications such as live chat are very popular and an integrated live chat and CRM system means that the live chat assistants can better assist the customer as the information is easily at hand. These interactions can also be recorded directly into the CRM system.

Why do we need CRM integration?
  • Improve product quality
  • To reduce production costs
  • To increase customer retention by
  • building better relationships
  • To increase reach
  • To increase efficiency

As we gain these insights into customer behaviour, we can evaluate which offerings are working and which ones are not, meaning we are better able to focus attention on the more lucrative areas and avoid wasting time on areas which do not make money for the business.

Good CRM integration automates mundane tasks, which gives you the advantage of less time wastage and more productive output.

What are the main challenges in CRM integration?

Understanding the requirements

For maximum efficiency and in order to avoid spending more than necessary, it is important to plan your CRM integration.

The first thing we do at Interprit is to fully understand the actual goal behind integrating your CRM. We ask why your business needs CRM so that we can provide you with a clear picture of exactly what you need. This way you can avoid wasting time and money through trial-and-error.

Data mapping

When integrating two (or more systems) the language and metrics used may be different across the systems. For example, looking at dates: the “close date” for the sales system may be the date the sale was agreed but for the accounting software the “close date” may be the date the money arrived in the account. Do we need to track both and report on both? And/or report on the difference?

Oversimplifying how data is tracked can cause huge problems and risk for the business in the future. Getting expert advice on data mapping from the start reduces this risk and ensures there is confidence in the CRM.

Data accuracy

As data is replicated across different systems, the risk of that data being inaccurate and out of sync increases. For example, if you are trying to understand the overall revenue picture you may pull an invoice report from one system and an opportunity report from another. When the systems are out of sync, it can be hard to determine which one shows the true picture and therefore be used to update the others.

In these situations, clear documentation is needed to provide clarity to staff and manage data interruptions. Having an integration expert means that you can create this documentation to show the flow of data, frequency of updates and any data manipulation and reduces the risk of your data being inaccurate.

In addition, a rigorous testing process will further reduce the risk around data accuracy.

User participation

Getting buy-in from staff and a willingness to learn how to use the integration can be a big challenge. Even after training, many employees continue to stick to old habits of managing data. Do we do anything to help with this challenge at all?

Integrating your CRM with the myriad other systems and applications in your business can seem like a daunting task. Whilst it is a complex process, the end goal of a seamless, holistic, transparent picture of your business needs to be kept at the forefront of your mind. And using integration specialists with plenty of experience really is the key to ensuring a smooth, successful transition.

Our highly trained integration experts help you not only see the solutions to these problems but also to seamlessly implement them. We’re with you from idea to execution.

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