When your business uses Microsoft CRM, is it better to enforce the standard that all customer information is stored in the CRM, or is it better to adopt a different tool for its convenience to do specific jobs. I’m specifically thinking of SharePoint. Do you stick with the strategy that customer information is stored in one central location, or do you sacrifice the strategy for convenience?
Customer relationship management (CRM) is, as the name suggests, a system that records information about your customers. Without customers, a business dies, hence the CRM should be the most valuable system in the business.
SharePoint is a very versatile tool. It is easy to use, intuitive, and can be easily tailored. It is a convenient tool to use in many situations. For example, the document management capabilities of SharePoint are certainly more extensive that those of most CRM systems.
Many organisations will happily operate both SharePoint and CRM. Typically, each tool begins its life within the organisation with distinct objectives. They co-exist quite happily for some time.
However to work effectively, an organisation needs to be clear about the strategic use of each tool. In my view, data integrity is crucial and there is a difference between where data is stored and where it is accessed. As soon as source data is housed separately in either system the integrity is lost.
How does this occur? Well typically it’s not unusual that each tool develops a super-user or champion and they really help push the use of the tool along. However, a problem arises when SharePoint is used to solve a customer-centric need – without reference to CRM. It may be that SharePoint can do the task and the convenience of using SharePoint is appealing. However, if it is not integrated or linked back to the CRM, the strategy of maintaining a centralised view of the customer is lost.
Now the problem exists that the customer relationship management system no longer maintains a 360 degree view of the customer. A user needs to use two systems to build a complete picture.
Where appropriate, a better approach would be to designate the CRM as the master source of customer information and if necessary use tools like SharePoint to surface that information.
It may mean that convenience or ease-of-use is not optimised, but the principal of data integrity is preserved. If delivering consistently superior customer service is key to business growth then the strategy of maintaining a centralised view of customer data should win out over convenience.
Blog written by Chris Pennington, Consultant to PA. The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer. Content published here does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Professional Advantage Pty Ltd.