The Journey to CRM: 7 Key Points to Consider

We’re not the marketers we were ten years ago. We’re taking the tools we have in front of us and are constructing them to be more targeted. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is the foundation for the way we’ll do marketing in the future…and the future is now. CRM is not a tool or a vendor – it’s a mindset.

CRM is about extreme customer management that starts with putting customer needs, wants and experiences at the center of decision making. As you think about CRM and build a business case for it, remember that CRM is a mindset for the entire organization. Marketers must work to create strategic partnerships within their organization in order for CRM to be a success. And shifting an organization to a CRM mindset is NOT easy.

We offer these 7 Key Points to consider when starting your CRM journey:

  1. It starts with strategy: articulate your vision and goals for CRM. Possibly the worst reason to implement a CRM system is because “everyone else is doing it so I had better do it too.” It’s extremely important for healthcare marketing teams to spend the time it takes to be able to clearly articulate the goal of CRM for your health system. Additionally, having a well-articulated strategy will assist you in appropriately finding the right vendor to accomplish those goals.
  2. Set clear and realistic expectations at the outset. Expectations can be set way too high…or on the flip side, may not even be set at all. Be realistic about your expectations and look at the long game. The RFP process alone can take six months. According to a recent survey by Corrigan Consultant’s business partners Klein & Partners and, the time it took to implement and reach a largely functioning CRM was 7-12 months for 27% of respondents and longer than 12 months for 20% of respondents.
  3. Educate, educate, educate. This cannot be stressed enough! From the C-suite on down, educate everyone on what it means to employ CRM, what new things will be happening, and what old things will change. Education is not a one and done – it will be an ongoing process.
  4. Timing is everything. The resources required to implement CRM can be significant not just for marketing, but also for your internal partners like IT and Finance. If the organization is in the middle of an EMR implementation, will CRM get the priority and focus required to drive a successful implantation?
  5. Cultivate a team of champions and create an engaging process. Who will be there with you? How will you get them excited about the process? How will you keep them engaged? Consider IT, Finance, Revenue Cycle, Business Intelligence/Decision Support, Strategic Planning, Business Development/Sales, Legal, Purchasing and Population Health integration – these are the people you’ll need (and want!) on your team.
  6. Find a vendor that meets your needs. There is no one right answer when choosing a vendor solution. It’s a matter of finding the right match for what you want to accomplish in your organization and having a good business partnership with a vendor that is a good fit. Go through a due diligence process!
  7. It’s never too early to start planning for content to drive CRM. It should be a parallel process and needs to be integrated into your planning – what are you going to do with this and where are you going to go? While you may be focused on data integration, it’s important to also start thinking about the implications for content as well.

CRM will change – and already is changing – healthcare marketing forever. More importantly, it will make a difference in marketers’ overall ability to help grow a prosperous business through engaging relationships with customers.