Gartner has predicted CRM will be a $36B market by 2017! Paradoxically, in spite of the whopping market estimate, the actual CRM implementation figure is very low. This begs the question: why is there such a marked difference between CRM market and its virtual usage? Why hasn’t it been able to penetrate the number of offices it should ideally do?

At present, there are close to 240+ CRM software providers fighting it out to gain the greatest market share. While all of them proclaim to offer an effective CRM solution (which most of them also do), the fact remains that boxed CRM solutions often fall short of meeting organizational needs.

This is precisely why today most organizations across the globe prefer opting for light-weight and effectively customized CRM software than a complicated and cumbersome CRM software package.

Below enlisted are a few key points stating the advantages organizations get from customized CRM software:

1. Meets exact organizational needs

Most CRM vendors design and develop CRM solutions to appeal to most industry verticals. Result: what eventually turns out is excessively feature-integrated complex CRM software. Instead of streamlining organizational processes and automating the tedious tasks, CRM adds to the woes of the business professionals. Imagine: working in clunky, bloated CRM that is incorporated with ten different modules required for a different industry type. And what makes things worse is that most CRM vendors compel you to take the entire package. Result: you deploy the whole software, even if the features you require constitute a fraction of it.

Additionally, training the end-users (who will ultimately work with the application) also takes in a lot of time. In all likelihood, it cuts into your sales, marketing and customer service teams’ productivity.

Alternatively, a custom-built CRM solution precisely meets your business need without much hassle. With a solution molded in consideration of your business operations, it tackles your individual problems well. Without any of the unnecessary bells and whistles, the CRM application holds the playing field adjusted to suit your rules and setting. In sum, you experience the home-team advantage because you have called the design and functionality shots.

Also, since the CRM is based on your organizational workflow, it becomes easy for your employees to get familiar with it. Inevitably, you achieve maximum efficiency in sales, marketing and customer service.

2. Integrates well with business departments

Multiple instances have corroborated that a customized CRM application gets better integrated into business operations across the different departments.

In the words of Steve Chipman, a real estate firm owner – ‘’my decision to opt for a custom-build CRM has definitely turned out to be one of the most prudent ones. Unlike an off-the-shelf CRM package where integration becomes a challenge, my customized CRM solution got smoothly integrated in the sales department. Gradually, I extended it into marketing and customer service as well.’’

Similar to Steve Chipman, there are many other business entrepreneurs who have followed the same strategy of CRM implementation. The idea is simple: First customize the CRM software for a particular department (say: sales). Observe its potentiality and loopholes while using it for an ample period of time. Gradually, extend the capabilities of the CRM by incorporating it into other departments (say: support and marketing).

Also, most businesses make it a point that their CRM applications have a powerful API. Resultant to which it becomes easy for them to integrate the CRM with other in-house enterprise solutions/software.

In the lieu of extensive customizations, do organizations make mistakes?

According to Denise Kitt, while CRM customization has come as a relief for fast growing enterprises who have evolving business requirements, business administrators have failed to capitalize upon it rightly. Elaborating this context further, he states – ‘’the liberty to customize the CRM as required has led to many administrators taking the wrong approach. They have asked for unwarranted customizations which have ended up being very costly in the long run.’’

Here are two common CRM customization mistakes made by business administrators. Take a look –

1. Excessive custom fields

There has been a tendency among the business administrators to add multiple custom fields to leads, accounts, contacts and deals modules. Inevitably this has resulted in too many redundant custom fields lying in the CRM as unused. Needless to say, this has not only led to waste of time and money but has also made the CRM complex for the end-users.

CRM expert Denise Kitt suggests looking for a consensus before making such decisions. Explaining this, he states – ‘’It’s best to have some level of consensus on whether to create a new custom field or not. Ideally, business administrator along with team leaders and CRM end-users should discuss over it and if required should decide:

  • Data type of the new field
  • Applicable business rules for the new field.’’

2. Lack of field validation rules

It’s very likely of business entrepreneurs to ignore field validation rules while laying out the customization checklist to the CRM provider. But then like any other CRM aspect, field validation rules hold (if not more) equal importance. After all you will not want your employees entering different character values for denoting the same thing. Right?

This is precisely why; it is advisable for business administrators to specifically emphasize upon the field validation rules applicable for the CRM software.

3. Ignorance of user needs

You are delighted that CRM application has been custom-built just the way you had briefed. After all you have thoroughly analyzed your organizational process and then gave the list of customization to the CRM application development company. But wait before you implement the CRM, have you taken the time to think about it from the user’s perspective?

Well, this is precisely what Ann All has emphasized in one of her leading blogs on CRM customization mistakes. Paraphrasing her words – while considering the organizational process is essential for CRM customization, taking in users’ opinion should be mandatory. After all if the CRM is not as per the users’ demand, then the effort is all going to go down the drain. It is imperative by all means that the end users see your CRM software as a solution to help them as opposed to a forced compulsion. And this can only be possible if you set up time for CRM strategic planning and design with them. Following this tactic will lead to better decision-making and will help end users be more efficient and effective using the CRM.