Continuous Improvement – Can you get more from your CRM?

For many people their CRM is ‘just’ the place where they store customer details.  They are not thinking about using it for continuous improvement.  The CRM is a necessary evil that is all part of the day to day background administration and something that doesn’t necessarily add a huge amount of value.  Very rarely do I come across a business who are using their CRM as a continuous improvement tool.  Many people are either just not aware, they haven’t been trained, their security profile prevents them or they simply just haven’t had time – to take advantage of the massive potential that most modern CRM’s have to change their business (and their lives!) for the better.


To me a CRM is a business tool that provides features and functionality to bring about positive continuous improvement.


If you are using a CRM and it isn’t delivering you cost savings, better management information or better sales opportunities then there is clearly something wrong.  Over the last 6 months (with all the COVID-19 issues) has your business been unable to change quickly – or doesn’t it have the tools available to respond or work online?  Your CRM should have been able to react quickly to keep you trading, communicating and compliant – with little or no extra license costs.  Not only should you expect your CRM to be ubiquitous (a Martini application? – anytime, anyplace , anywhere!) – but it should also be capable of any improvement or change to your business processes being applied quickly.


If your business systems can’t change quickly when the economy changes, when your competitors start ‘eating your lunch’, when the regulator makes changes, when you bring out a new product or when your own internal controls need updating – you’ll gradually fall further and further behind as you struggle to keep pace or try and do this manually (or create yet another excel sheet!).  Your CRM is a business tool that will allow you to use continuous improvement techniques and make your business better.

CRM Standard Features

Let’s take a look a few standard continuous improvement features that can help you work faster, better, safer and cheaper!  I’m not talking about extensive customisation or bespoke code – these are normal out of the box configuration features that only take a few hours to set up and test before you can deploy them to your live system.


  1. Workflow Processes
    1. These are ‘triggers’ that typically are either fired on a status change (A sales opportunity might go from ‘open’ to ‘closed’) or time based (send a reminder email 30 days before an expiry date).
    2. You can use them to create tasks, send alerts, send emails or updates fields.
    3. The aim is to use automation to reduce your workload, reduce possible errors (finger issues!) and make sure that it is right first time.
  2. Approval Processes
    1. These allow you to set up a workflow that once the criteria is met will automatically seek approval from a user or group of users.
    2. The approver can accept, reject or delegate (if allowed) and will be required to add in any comments.  The response can trigger other automated processes – saving even more time and effort.
    3. The user will receive the response and either carry on with the process or take remedial action.
  3. Review Processes
    1. These can be set up to automatically check that data entered into the system matches certain expectations.
    2. Typically these can be used in high volume situations where it is not possible for every transaction to be checked manually (data coming in from other systems or websites etc.)
    3. Records are locked until the review process is completed and all fields are validated.
  4. Blueprints
    1. These can used to encompass either parts of or complete business processes and provide visibility of where work is in the system.
    2. They make sure that users are guided by the system through these processes and can only move forward by following the correct path.
    3. The next steps in the process are shown to the users in the form of either a ‘to do’ list or via a My Jobs menu.
  5. Escalation and Scoring rules
    1. Auto-emails, Tasks and Alerts can be created based upon certain criteria and rules along with the appropriate actions.
    2. Typical examples would be breaches of service level agreements raising a priority and engaging with more senior staff or Web2Lead forms being automatically sent to the right team for action and setting up call backs in calendars.
    3. These make sure that a consistent approach to customer service is delivered and that nothing is missed or forgotten.
  6. Dashboards & Analytics
    1. Data in the system can be reported on instantly with dashboards components showing the up to date situation
    2. These should be used extensively in customer service, support and contact centres hsoiwng types of cases/calls.  Dispatch environments where goods being delivered trigger invoices or support contracts might show where the deliver item is at any one time.
    3. You can have gauges that show warning levels (e.g. Red, Amber, Green) – this might show a stock re-order level, staff absence, sickness etc.
  7. Command Centre
    1. Setting up and managing cross application processes where work might move outside of your CRM and onto a 3rd party system.
    2. If your accounts package is outside of your CRM you can pass invoice information across and get back payment information
    3. Work doesn’t have to ‘disappear’ and be outside of your control
Your business should be using some – if not all of these – to take away manual work and errors, improve customer service and free up time for more productive work.  None of the above require programming or coding to work and should be a normal part of your CRM.  All of them can be set up and tested first in your sandbox before being deployed to your Production system.  When your business needs to change – you should update these in the sandbox and test them again to make sure that you get the improvements that you want.

How should you move towards Continuous Improvement?

Cloudtech is passionate about making your business better.  Don’t forget that you are paying for your software licenses and so you should get the most out of what you are using!  All the above are standard features in a modern CRM and if yours doesn’t have them or they aren’t being used – talk to us.  If you are considering a ‘Lean’ approach to rationalise and improve your business there are grants and support available.

We can help put you in touch with the right people to help navigate the various bodies and service providers and who will also guide and train you in Lean.


Tim Pullen
+353 866044820