North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Phase 4 Strategy - Step 3 CRM/EMR

Choosing a CRM/EMR

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a vital tool for organizations today. Companies are seeking more efficiency since the sales world has become global and more complex.

Index cards can no longer track the numerous interactions with current and future customers. CRM’s are a tool designed to track customer interactions; presale and post-sale. CRM’s of the past were so simple, a virtual Rolodex. Today, vendors have added so many features that it’s become overwhelming to determine which CRM is the right tool for your company. CRM’s can track and create a multitude of business processes. They can track conversations, track orders, create forecasts, capture emails and much more. CRM software has come a long way since its inception. So, you might be asking, “What should I track?”
CRM Success Factors

First and foremost, for CRM success, it must be used by everyone in the entire organization. Yes, everyone from front line sales to top line management. It if is too complicated people will avoid it. If it takes too much time inputting data and takes them off their number one task of working with customers, they will not use it.

Secondly, to avoid CRM catastrophe, understand and set the expectations right from the start. CRM’s can track a ton of information; marketing wants to track leads, accounting wants to track orders, legal wants to track compliance, and salespeople want to track hot prospects. You may be tempted to have salespeople obtain all that information while they’re already speaking to the customer. Don’t do it– salespeople are not data entry people; they are relationship people who are effective at moving clients through the sales process and your top sales performers will not spend time collecting and entering data.
To make your CRM implementation successful, boil it down to the top 3-6 pieces of information you need to understand if a deal is genuine or not. Salespeople can handle fewer more meaningful pieces of information and are willing to comply with less data entry. Yes, CRM’s can handle 100’s of data points but if no one is willing to use it or enter the data, all those empty fields don’t help anyone.
CRM’s come in all sizes and capabilities. The truth is, most of the features you probably won’t use. Narrow it down to the top three things you need to know. These three things typically identify genuine opportunities but you decide what is best for your sales organization.

1. What problem is the customer trying to solve?
2. Why is it important for them to solve that issue with urgency?
3. How will they measure success of the solution?
CRM Features to Consider

Potential Sales Tracking:
A good CRM will have a way to track the company’s opportunities and customers. A feature that can track potential sales including dollar amounts, what products will be needed for the sale, when it will close, and status in the sales process is a great feature to have. Other departments can also use this feature for planning, execution of the implementation, and the delivery. Every department wants to know what to expect and a pipeline display tells the story.
Easy to Use:
This is more of a company behavior than a CRM feature. I know this has happened to you. Your CRM pops up a task to contact Mr. Jones today, so you make the call only to find out that he called in yesterday and talked to the accounting department about his lost payments. You have no idea that he is upset with your company because when you went to read the notes (prior to making the call to him), there were no notes. The accounting department failed to document the customer conversation yesterday, and now you’re unprepared and he’s even more upset! The CRM doesn’t work by itself. Ensure that the entire organization complies with documenting customer interactions – phone, in-person, and email. When it is easy to use your team will use it.

Communications Tracking:
Today most of your communication is via email. If you are using an outdated email or CRM platform that is not tightly integrated, you are missing important conversations. Provided the client is set up in the CRM, a tightly integrated platform captures all emails to and from clients within their respective files. Your users will enjoy this feature knowing that they don’t have to go into the CRM and retype everything they said in the email. Make it simple to use.
Make it accessible from smartphones and tablets. Data that can’t be accessed is useless. You worked hard to track it, now make it available for salespeople, management and delivery people. Set up your field team for success with complete account information at their fingertips. Today’s customers expect it. Select a cloud-based CRM and data will be available to your team anytime, anywhere, with any device, thus making it accessible.

The CRM has become the backbone of your business – protect it with rigorous security measures. Protecting data from both disgruntled employees (internally as well as externally) and cyber-attacks is crucial. Select a CRM that gives you the ability to assign security rights and access. You want to minimize theft of your valuable relationships.
Understand What CRM/EMRs Do for You

Determine your specific goals for using a CRM. Here are the most common:
- Track Leads and Lead Activity
- Track Customer Base
- Track Opportunities and Closing Rates
- Offer Connectivity Between Teams
- Manage Relationships
- Generate Customized Reporting
- Organize Business Operations
- Reporting
You company may have unique information that drives the business and therefore your CRM goals maybe customized accordingly. Don’t ignore what drives your business and try to “fit” into a CRM. The CRM should be flexible enough to fit into your business.

Many organizations are willing to make the investment into business productivity tools. Unfortunately, where these applications fall short is in the integration of applications with other applications.

This causes a great deal of headache for agents because they must learn and master numerous applications, are responsible for numerous passwords and all this extra activity extends talk times and impacts service levels. The more applications can send and receive information electronically on the backend, the more it makes the job of a contact center agent nicer. By automating the flow of data, it reduces data entry errors, makes the job more interesting, and agents feel greater success and therefore will stick around longer.


1. Simplify your CRM/ERM requirements and choosing a solution will get you faster through implementation and faster to enjoying the benefits of a new CRM. Too much time overthinking and looking for a solution that does everything is time-consuming and unrealistic.
2. Choose a CRM/ERM application with expansion capabilities for long term growth.

Take the Next Step!

Selecting a CRM is a daunting task but a necessary one. While there are many things to consider, boiling it down to 3-6 pieces of information will make adoptability and compliance an easy process. Look for a solution that allows for expansion and customization for future growth. Choosing something is better than using the shared drive spreadsheet; don’t over think it.

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The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.