One of the difficulties in explaining the potential benefits of CRM to neophytes or sceptics is that it can become a fundamentally different thing depending on the industry you work in or the scale of your business.

What is important is not to think of it as a one-size-fits-all panacea that will deal with all of your marketing problems – CRM can be extremely useful, but it needs to be integrated and planned correctly if it is to be an effective part of your advertising technology.

Before purchasing the software, you should think about exactly what areas you need to target for improvement, and tailor the type of CRM you purchase so that it can fit into these gaps.

For instance, a large company with well-established procedures and an international, wide-ranging customer base will use CRM very differently from a start-up with its own aims and demands than its more mature competitors.

Ultimately, you need to make sure you have the right plans in place to make CRM work for you, otherwise conversion rates and return on investment will end up being disappointing, no matter how powerful the software package you have purchased is.

Here are some of the ways you can ensure your CRM is performing at an optimal level.

Keep it simple

As I explained above, it can be tempting to see CRM as a cure to all that ails your marketing function – to use it as a way of improving mobile content, engaging more effectively with customers, producing insightable data and sharing information across the company, all at the same time.

Naturally, this is an attractive proposition, but like most things that sound too good to be true, it is a pipe dream.

If you want your CRM software to be taken up across the company and used regularly, it makes sense to produce a simple, effective workflow initially, before adding all the bells and whistles that come with modern technology.

Of course, CRM can help you with improving your mobile service provision, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be used for such a complex task straight away. At first, use the fewest functions you can get away with – this will make the benefits clear and ensure that the people holding the purse strings will be happy to invest further in the technology later down the line.

Target it effectively

The failure of many CRM integrations comes about at least in part because firms do not have a strategic plan in place for utilising the software. You wouldn’t hire a new member of staff if you were unsure exactly what they were going to do – the same approach should be taken when adopting new technology.

Andrew Brittain, managing director of digital agency Advantec, recently told My Customer that companies need to change the way they look at CRM if they are to use it successfully.

“A CRM system is an important tool for building customer loyalty and encouraging retention. It will also keep your business competitive, but one common trap that can be fallen into by organisations is to see it as a standalone tactic, rather than developing it as a strategic function,” he explained.

“If you have a CRM system and it is not currently achieving what you hoped then it may down to the absence of a strategic plan, or because the system is not fully integrated and in line with business goals.”

Train workers to use CRM properly

Effective, comprehensive training on how to make use of CRM software will ensure that workers are comfortable with it and do not consider it either an imposition on their time or an overly complex, confusing system that they do not understand.

This should start with a short introduction to why the system has been brought in, explaining the benefits it can offer on an organisational level – workers will be more likely to express resentment or uncertainty if they are unclear about what CRM is for.

However, a short afternoon session is unlikely to sort out all the issues staff have with utilising new technology. Businesses that provide ongoing support and development opportunities to their workers around CRM will find their investment proves far more worthwhile.

Potentially, Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be adapted to more quickly, because its basic interface is more easily understood by people who have spent a lot of time with the tech giant’s other products.

Ultimately, bad training will mean no workers utilise the CRM package, which is one of the biggest reasons that many implementations fall by the wayside and will make the investment a waste of money.