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February 2014

The Value of CRM in the Professional Services Industry

 

By Barry Goman, Managing Director, AMR Consulting

It could be time to evaluate your strategy and approach to client relationship management (CRM). Forbes.com calls CRM one of the most valuable systems any business can implement. Inc.com states that businesses often overlook their best source of growth – their existing client base. When you also consider the significantly higher cost of acquiring new clients and advances in CRM technology, a yearly assessment is a valuable exercise for organizations to undertake.

CRM is a constant process for attracting, retaining, and expanding client relationships. It is about knowing your customers comprehensively and treating your client base as a valuable asset. CRM recognizes the need to track client interactions and data at the many “touch points” in the process and maintain a common client “knowledge base”.

A CRM knowledge base includes basic data like contact names and titles, addresses, locations, projects worked on, and invoices – but goes well beyond this and is designed to serve the needs of the whole organization. A “look-up” within a CRM system should generate a more complete picture of the state and importance of a client relationship, e.g. progress with current projects, outstanding issues, value and probability of winning new business, and past-project performance feedback.

Approached correctly, the benefits of CRM are numerous and include:

  • More efficient and integrated processes
  • Faster access to critical information
  • Improved marketing and business development ROI
  • Client investing based on measured value
  • Knowledge staying within a company in the event of staff changes
  • Improved teamwork and collaboration

Brief surveys within your firm can start a CRM evaluation and quickly provide feedback on the merits of investing more time and effort. Owners and executives should consider the following key questions:

  • Is your CRM widely used, shareable, and user-friendly?
  • Are you able to assess and rank client value – at all or easily?
  • Can you accurately forecast future business across a timeline using probabilities?
  • Do you maintain data that confirms clients are pleased with your relationship and will serve as referrals?
  • Do you have a process in place for reporting on lost business?
  • Are you able to track and manage any type of client issue?

Introducing improvements to CRM frequently involve technology and software changes. The choices available today are wide-ranging – cloud (rent) or on-premise (buy), off-the-shelf or custom, vertical or horizontal, local support or web-based – and require careful consideration. In addition to selecting the CRM software solution that best meets requirements, factors critical to the overall success of an implementation include:

  • Realistic funding and a clear statement of executive support and commitment 
  • A cross-function and enthusiastic project team that will become the early adopters and advocates for change
  • Appointment of an executive sponsor to serve as the project team advisor
  • A phased approach to planning and achieving objectives; setting milestone tasks and dates that are reasonable (and consider other organization activities or constraints)
  • Embracing the vital importance of motivating, coaching, and training; the impact of human resources is significant
  • Recognizing that selecting the best software fit is important, but in itself does not guarantee success

CRM is a constant process for attracting, retaining, and expanding client relationships – and building a more successful business. Do you need to establish or improve the CRM strategy and tactics in your company?

About AMR Consulting

AMR’s mission is to help organizations improve profitability by identifying and resolving problems with software systems, business processes, and staff training. AMR has been supporting consulting engineering firms across Canada since 1990 and maintains offices in Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver.  Long-term clients include MMM Group, CBCL Limited, and Pinchin West.  AMR is a Deltek Premier Partner and is led by Barry Goman, CMC. Learn more at www.amrgroup.ca.


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Association of Consulting Engineering
Companies | Canada
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