Building CRM Requirements


If you build it, they will come

Would you build a house without a set of plans? Not a chance! A builder needs blueprints and detailed specifications – otherwise you could end up with a two bedroom bungalow when what you wanted was a 4 bedroom colonial with a state-of-the-art man cave.

Scoping a CRM or customer service system needs the same attention to detail.

Plan-AheadConsider this scenario plaguing a recent client: The business owner is getting calls from very angry customers. One call was from a customer who’d emailed his sales rep about a problem five days ago and the issue still isn’t resolved. In fact, the customer suspects that no one is even working on it. You know that’s unacceptable – and start to worry about the angry customers who won’t be calling because they’re now doing business with your competition.

What would a good process for happy customers look like?

  • The customer submits a trouble ticket for assistance.
  • The customer gets an email acknowledgement.
  • An rep is assigned to resolve the issue.
  • A manager is alerted if a problem isn’t resolved within 5 hours.
  • Rep enters the issue and resolution into a central database.
  • The customer receives a satisfaction survey once the issue is resolved.

As you can see, the focus is on functional requirements. There’s no mention of likely database fields or user interface or any other technical requirement. That’s because it’s too early in the process to consider the “What.” For now you need to be focused on the “How.”  After you have a solid understanding of an ideal process then you can select a software solution to implement it.

Don’t confuse features with function

There’s no guarantee a CRM or customer support system will meet your requirements based solely on a features list. As the saying goes, “The devil’s in the details”. Developing a use case like the one above is helpful to identify the critical steps in a process.

Consider these three examples that compare a software feature with the function it performs :

Feature     Function required
Email Drip campaigns to vertical markets; track and analyze results
Integrate with Gmail
Automate email alerts
Support Online customer portal
Automatically escalate if no resolution within x hours
Make support history available to Sales Dept. via CRM
Reports Forecast pipeline by quarter
Average number of days for Lead conversion, by industry
Sales performance by territory for specified date range

The feature is the “what” and function is the “how.” See the difference? In other words, it won’t matter if you pick a CRM with an e-mail feature if it doesn’t support the automated alert functionality specified in your process.

Your requirements document is the blueprint for your project. It doesn’t have to be a technical document with process flows and fancy symbols. Create something that works for you to help you select the right system and stay on track as you implement it.

If you get stuck working through your requirements, give our Chief Problem Solver a call at 781-606-0433.