4 Keys to a Successful CRM Implementation at Your Bank or Credit Union

A properly planned and timed CRM implementation is a major contributor to its success. Don’t sabotage your CRM by under valuing this phase of its adoption.

Many financial institutions are experiencing the value-added benefits of customer relationship management (CRM) technologies. As more banks and credit unions determine that adopting a CRM is an important part of continuing to meet customer expectations, finding the right CRM partner and seeing an installation through to success and a changed business environment is in many institution’s strategic plans.

Making the decision to add a CRM to the business process is not a small one and requires planning, buy-in, dollars, and labor to make it all happen. All these requirements for adopting a CRM are important, but the often-overlooked implementation phase of adoption touches all these areas and can make or break the success of this valuable tool. In Forbes, George Larkou notes, “ . . . when a new CRM is accused of ‘wasting time,’ it is more often an implementation failure.” Perhaps because implementation appears at the end of a long adoption plan, it’s easy to feel it’s a downhill stretch from there. On the contrary, proper planning and focus at this stage is a necessity. Here are four keys to a successful CRM implementation.

#1 – Prepared and Committed Financial Institution

Adding a CRM means a financial institution understands its need to enhance their current business processes and scale its abilities to connect with customers in a meaningful and data-rich way. Assessing the commitment to this new strategy across department leads is the next critical step. “Nearly half of CRM implementation campaigns suffer from improper preparation and misaligned objectives among internal stakeholders,” explains Adam Uzialko in Business News Daily. A robust and well-used CRM should enhance customer relationships and business processes across the entire organization.  It’s not unusual for marketing and sales teams to understand the benefits of CRM and successfully lobby for its addition, while executives and operations teams commit to be along for the ride. This unbalanced commitment can fly under the radar through the early phases of acquiring a CRM but can become a complicating factor in the long-term success of CRM applications.

C-Suite support and visible commitment is a vital starting place, but involving stakeholders across the organization is equally important. End users as well as executives need to know why the organization is making the change, see the benefits, and be equally invested. Bhakti Paun in his article “9 Stages for an Effective CRM Implementation Process,” describes the purpose of this enterprise-wide effort: “[It] is equally important to involve end-users in the project very early on. One of the main causes of failure of the CRM implementation process lies in the low adoption of the tool by the teams concerned. If the teams are not involved, they risk not using the CRM software, using only a small part of its functionality or misusing the tool.”

Though preparation begins long before a technology partner is on the scene, its impact is often most potent as implementation is underway. Addressing cultural issues, like how sales-focused an institution is, also affects uptake of new or altered processes associated with a CRM. Taking the time and resources to ensure all parties are on board and committed and appropriate cultural changes are in force is a primary key to a successful implementation.

#2 – The Right CRM Product/Partner

There are a sea of CRM products and providers on the market. Finding the best match for both requires effort. Choosing the right product means finding a system that is capable of addressing all your CRM goals and communicates with your core banking software. The technology partner that delivers the product has an integral part in determining the success of its implementation, and a savvy one understands that the product and service they deliver is not just technology. Look for a relationship with a provider who understands the culture of banking, and that means bankers and the customers they serve.

An attentive and capable partner offers their customers time, commitment, and support through the life of the partnership. Experienced CRM providers are invested in the long-term success of their CRM product, demonstrated by their accessibility and reliability when challenges arise. This is particularly true during the implementation process.

#3 – Real Support Through Implementation

It’s not uncommon for the larger CRM providers to become scarce as implementation begins, outsourcing to a different provider or employing outside consultants. Often these entities were not a part of the early phases of the project. This is generally inadequate help for such an important transition and not what real support looks like.

Real support involves a CRM partner who is present during the whole of implementation and able to offer experienced guidance. This type of provider understands the pain points, the gaps, and the goals their customer is trying to address with the CRM, and they contribute applicable best practice advice where processes meet the technology. Expect a training presence (or product) during the practical phase of implementation to ensure end users are prepared to hit the ground running. David Acevedo, SVP and National Sales Director at 360 View, says “CRM implementation is not an IT implementation. IT is involved, but the key people are the folks who will be using the tool in their processes.” Real support offers real solutions for this important audience.

360 View is a good example of a provider who offers industry-focused, ready support. A midwest bank and 360 View client noted during their recent implementation that, “It [was] absolutely critical to the success of the project that [360 View] was as available as they were . . . the fact that [they] have the knowledge of [our core software], the knowledge of banking, and the knowledge of 360 . . . it was always a positive experience.”

#4 – Clearly Stated Implementation Plan with Schedule

This might seem obvious, but it is important to know up front that a CRM partner is thinking ahead and thoroughly about the varied phases of a good implementation plan. Best case scenario, the plan is standardized because it comes from experience implementing many other systems, but it has the flexibility to bend with the specific needs of different financial institutions. Look for implementation plans to include multiple phases. For example:

  • Installation
  • Data Testing
  • Customization
  • Training
  • Go-Live

Each phase should have details and deliverables associated with it, and these should all be agreed upon up front. The beginning of a relationship is the time to tweak and discuss customization of an implementation plan. A CRM partner who understands that every project has special requirements is a positive find.

Orchestrating a successful CRM implementation is not without challenges, and it requires lots of cooperation across business teams and with the CRM provider. Careful planning is worth a lot, and a reminder about the larger purpose of adopting a CRM is helpful. From Business News Daily again, Mr. Uzialko emphasizes, “A CRM platform is a tool to help your team solve problems; it can’t solve the problems itself. Remember that the purpose of a CRM is to empower the team, not for the team to empower the software. Adherence to that golden rule will keep your decisions throughout the process focused on the proper objectives.” Keeping this in mind during implementation when transitions can be tense or challenging offers good perspective, and a successful implementation is a great predictor of the CRM’s long-term success.


How 360 View Can Help

Finding the right CRM and the right partner to ensure a successful implementation is not as hard as it sounds. With over 20 years of successful implementations in the financial industry, 360 View is a CRM Platform developed for bankers by bankers who understand the special needs of banks and credit unions. If you'd like to know more, check out our Getting Started with CRM Guide or schedule a demo to see our product up-close.


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