Static CRM dashboards required users to spend lots of time and energy putting data into the system. And getting data out of these databases wasn’t much easier. For some companies, the time spent entering the many data points from a client or prospect was overtaking the supposed benefit, and the difficulty of producing meaningful reports to turn into sales efforts was painful, if not impossible.
These traditional, static dashboards enable users to see visual charts and graphs that represent data, (sales pipeline, customer service queue, leads for follow up), but the latest generation of customer relationship management (CRM) software allows users to not only analyze across departments, but it allows them to take action on that information.
Strategic Components Drive Functional Processes
CRM tools typically serve one of two functions— strategic or tactical. Strategic tools are generally used for business intelligence, reports, workflow, and dashboards. Tactical elements of a CRM are things like calendaring, opportunity or sales process management, and email marketing. However, interactive tools are enabling the historically strategic components of the system to drive day-to-day results. In some cases, the workflow-driven components that you see on the screen are caused by someone else taking an action on their interactive dashboard.
In one specific example, a company recently eliminated an entire paper process for onboarding a new customer and shortened the timeframe from 4 hours to 15 minutes using the new type of dashboard.
The old process involved a salesperson using CRM to manage selling activity, but if they sold to a new customer, a new customer form was filled out manually and then entered by someone else in operations before the order could be placed. Missing or incorrect information could lengthen the process. After adapting the interactive dashboard, when a new customer placed an order, the operations team would see a task show up in their “New Customer” dashboard and they would simply work through the dashboard to approve the customer with all of the necessary information already at their fingertips.
When a new lead comes in from marketing, a sales rep can see that lead on screen and initiate a phone call or an activity to qualify a potential opportunity. If a quote needed an approval, a manager can take action in the dashboard and pass it over to accounting for approval. Another example would be a customer call. The issue could be immediately routed on-screen to the right people to resolve the problem.
Using Interactive Dashboards
CRM software can leverage strategic tools like workflow and dashboards and combine them with email marketing, social media, and calendaring to give users realtime information that can be used to make better decisions. Let’s take a look at an example of what used to be a static dashboard that has evolved into something much more powerful.
One company was very interested in putting a dashboard together that could connect their sales, customer service, marketing, and accounting people so that they could spend less time tracking things like shipping or billing addresses and have all of their relevant data in one place. After implementation, they immediately began to see results from having dashboards that would show everything from their sales pipeline to the marketing results from their email blasts. They also began to use the system to create a dashboard showing which products were selling best and which customers were slow in paying their bills.
These new capabilities were great but having the ability to see these reports dynamically on a screen did not do anything to significantly improve the day-today operations of the business. The company wanted dashboards to include classic view-only information and an option to use an interactive dashboard. The interactive tools allowed employees to view leads along with the product the lead was interested in without drilling to another screen.
More importantly, by simply clicking on the lead, employees were able to see contacts in a specific company, how the contacts are associated, as well as a LinkedIn link to get more information on the contact. The final benefit is that within the interactive dashboard the user simply needs to click on the lead to take an action like making a phone call, setting up a meeting, or sending an email. Having these links and actions available greatly improves day-to-day productivity by bringing critical information to the user on demand, rather than requiring him or her to run reports or move somewhere else in the system to get critical information.
M. Danny Estrada has been working in the field of customer relationship management for the past 10 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.