CRM Document Management

CRM Document Management

Every company is engaged in an ongoing fight to retain current customers and obtain new ones. Of course, superior service is one of the keys to accomplishing both of these objectives. Superior service, however, is often the result of superior technology. For this reason, vendors that provide CRM (customer relationship management) solutions have been busy. CRM solutions promise users the ability to know more about their customers and, ultimately, how to serve them better. But, are companies that have implemented CRM solutions seeing a complete picture of their customers? In the case of IMR, an imaging and document management software developer, the answer was no.

The company installed a leading CRM solution and realized what many users are also finding out. "The CRM system does a fabulous job at handling SQL (structured) data. These are items such as customer names, addresses, order numbers, contacts, and support incidents," explains Dave Horan, director, relationship management at IMR (Englewood, CO). "However, the system really lacked the ability to handle unstructured data such as Word files, Excel files, and scanned documents. To have a complete view of a customer, you have to be able to access structured and unstructured data."

The Need For Document Management In CRM
A common business process at IMR, and at most companies, can demonstrate the shortcomings of a CRM solution that doesn't handle unstructured data. IMR requires that a hard copy of a PO (purchase order) is filed for every sale. These POs are usually received by fax and filed by a sales rep. Customers that question an order call their respective reps. The reps use the CRM system to view the order information from their desktops. However, the order information is manually entered and may not be consistent with the data on the PO. "Our reps have to search through file cabinets to find the POs. They can then compare them to what our customers are looking at," says Horan. "That takes time and also reduces the quality of service that we want to offer."

Being an imaging and document management software developer, IMR took matters into its own hands. The company built a document repository that sits next to its CRM SQL database. A button for associated documents was added to the CRM interface. Voila, reps now have access to SQL data and unstructured data at their desktops.

CRM Solutions Must Incorporate Unstructured Data
IMR and its competitors have since developed solutions that enhance the offerings of CRM systems. Horan says that CRM is a valuable part of businesses today, and it's natural to want to extend CRM systems' capabilities. "Most importantly, companies are getting a more complete picture of their customers when they are viewing unstructured data as well as structured data. All of this data can be accessed through the CRM interface.

A critical step in implementing a CRM solution is to evaluate all of the processes within a company. During this evaluation, a company will realize that documents play an important role in some of those processes. A quick look at the financial department of any company will verify the previous statement to be true. Once a company pinpoints critical documents, it has to figure out how its new CRM system will handle them – if at all. It's at this point that the company will realize the importance of integrating a document management solution with its chosen CRM system.

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