What is CRM Customization?

Before we can discuss why or when a company may need customization, it would be prudent to understand what it actually is. CRM customization is the process of adding new or modifying existing CRM features in order to make it a better fit for the needs of each particular business. CRM customization usually falls into three general categories.

Types of Customization

With so many CRM software choices available, it’s often difficult to determine what level of customization is acceptable. So how do you determine the level of customization that’s right for your organization? How do you decide whether it’s worth it to you to configure a task exactly to your specifications instead of going with a slightly inferior out-of-the-box solution? To answer these questions, we should first assess the different levels of customization available.

Basic-Level Customization

This level of customization can mostly be accomplished within the CRM’s user interface by the assigned administrator of the system.  Some examples would be: creating simple workflows, adding soft-coded keywords in drop-down fields and adding fields to a form.  In some cases, if the company’s specific security model allows it, even general users of system can make modifications.  Examples would be each user having the ability to configure their own dashboards or being able to change the soft-coded keywords in a drop-down field.

Mid-Level Customization

Customization in this level would be classified as moderate to complex configuration of the out-of-the-box features of the UI.  Examples of this would be creation of workflows for complex processes and the creation of new forms. It could also would be for items that require a minimal level of application coding as well as providing for 3rd party integration.

Advanced-Level Customization

This kind of customization would require the services from an experienced vendor like Clear C2. In order to incorporate certain functions into a CRM system, you will need programmers/developers to go into its backend and build the functionality from scratch with source code. Not only does it require highly-skilled employees to build it, but they also have to do all the various testing — QA, regression analysis and debugging. This level could also involve items that involve complex application code creation as well as complex workflows that require subroutines.

Why do you need It?

It’s very unusual for an organization to use a CRM out-of-the box without any configuration. Whether it’s setting up user profiles, importing data from another source, creating widgets for dashboard configuration, creating new forms or heavy backend coding, some level of customization is needed, and depending on how large your organization is and how specific your needs are, the software might require a lot of custom changes. Below are some reasons organizations need to have their CRMs customized:

Company-Specific Data Analysis

Most if not all companies use the CRM as a decision-making tool to meet their short and long-term financial goals.  In order to provide the correct analysis needed to accomplish this, your CRM needs to be able to gather pertinent company and industry-specific data.  Cookie-cutter CRMs are too general in categorizing data and cannot provide the necessary accuracy and detail needed.  With customization, first, custom fields are added to CRM entities, like leads, contacts or opportunities in order to collect additional information that default forms don’t allow. Secondly, it involves using existing sales and marketing automation tools in order to create specific scenarios that are relevant to the client’s business. Lastly, you may need to leverage custom integration with non-CRM tools and services to pull in pertinent data generated outside the system. For example, integrating your CRM with accounting or ERP software. Finally, having this company-specific info available at your desktop will not be enough.  The custom application built for your business should also be available on your mobile app provided by the CRM vendor.

Foster Increased System Usage

When implementing CRM software, it is critical to get the buy-in from all your users so they will use the system religiously which hopefully will result in a database with more integrity that executives will base their decisions on.  In order to obtain the necessary buy-in, the users will have to believe the software will help them to be more productive in their daily activities and not be a chore.  Having a customized application based on the data they deem appropriate and the processes they perform in their daily routine will foster increased system usage. The user interface will be easier to use and more intuitive thus increasing the user adoption rate.

Delighting the Customer

One of the main tenants of procuring a CRM system in the first place is to be more responsive to the customer and gaining their loyalty and confidence.  When CRM software is customized,

  • marketing personnel will be able to target prospects better,
  • sales reps will be able to focus their efforts on accounts and opportunities that better optimize their time,
  • sales reps can provide better sales forecasts resulting in the correct product mix and the customer getting their orders on time
  • CSRs will be able to provide better and more responsive customer service
  • The entire organization will look and feel more cohesive to the customer being on-point with their specific needs

…all resulting in higher sales revenue and better customer retention because the application was customized to their needs.

Conclusion

When selecting a CRM vendor and system for your application, it’s critical to pick one that will satisfy the specific needs of your business.  Unfortunately, there many vendors who require you to force fit your business model to their out-of-the box software.  There are others who have partners who will perform the customizations at a higher cost…and then continue charging you in the future when your system needs modification.  When you have a 2 vendor (partner) solution, there can be a gray area of responsibility to the client and in many cases, there is the potential for finger-pointing on who will be held accountable. At Clear C2, we offer a solution-based consultative approach that focuses on configuring/customizing our software to fit our client’s business model and processes. Also, since we do not outsource any part of our solution and provide our own professional services, we can deliver the appropriate expertise while being held accountable…even well after the initial implementation has been completed.

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