Create a holistic customer view with a CRM

Customer relationship management: It’s a process that has always been a “nice to have” instead of a “must have” for bankers.

But with ever-increasing demands from customers for personalized experiences, fragmented systems won’t cut it. Banks need a CRM tool that provides a 360 degree view of all inquiries, accounts, conversations and more.

Instead of viewing a CRM as “one more tool to manage,” bankers can choose a CRM that fits into a broader workflow and creates a standardized experience for employees across multiple departments.

Why implement a CRM now?

Is an economic downturn really the best time to implement a new tool? Yes.

During busy times, banks find themselves scrambling. Tools need to be already in place, with employees comfortable using them. If that’s the case, you’ll be able to test the limits of automation and efficiency during periods of high volume.

Especially now, bank employees may be talking to customers about potential products and services that customers aren’t ready to pursue yet. They’re waiting for conditions to improve or interest rates to drop. You will want a system that makes it easy to circle back with these customers in the future.

And if your bank has had a lot of turnover or staff shortages, it can be difficult (or impossible) for employees to refer to previous or ongoing conversations with potential customers. A CRM can centralize all of that information and keep the lines of communication flowing.

What to consider

There are many CRM giants in the industry, including Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. They’re certainly proven tools, but they aren’t necessarily the best fit for community banks, especially if your organization is small or mid-sized. 

The past few years have seen a rise in bank-specific CRM systems that can streamline contact center, sales, marketing, and business development functions.

Any CRM system should be properly vetted for its integration with other bank systems, including the core, account opening and loan applications, among others. Any employee who uses it should be able to quickly ascertain the customer’s history with the bank and provide the personal touch that lets customers know they’re more than just an account number.

Your chosen CRM should be highly customizable so that it can meet your needs. You’ll also want a system that has dashboards, analytics and reporting to track results. A mobile app would enable bank employees to add notes on-the-go.

Above all, it should be simple to use. A CRM is only as good as the data it holds. If employees struggle to add updates or find it cumbersome to use, the implementation will fall far short of the system’s capabilities.

Set realistic goals

Measuring the ROI of a CRM can be tricky. You won’t be able to directly attribute interactions with revenue in all cases, especially if one of your use cases for the CRM is relationship building. Instead, you might look at increasing contacts for business development, outbound calls, or leads that are generated from targeted marketing efforts.

Banks often ask themselves “Who owns the CRM?” and that’s also a tricky question. Because its usage can span multiple departments, it might be hard to pinpoint. But upfront, your bank should decide on an individual or internal team that is responsible for ensuring that the CRM meets the needs of everyone who uses the system.

Start with one use case. It might be your contact center or mortgage loan officers, whatever department can benefit the most right out of the chute. It might be the department that struggles the most with communication or the one that has a single need (versus a complex implementation).

However you begin, keep your eyes on the big picture. Since the CRM will eventually be implemented bank-wide, you don’t want to create a square peg/round hole situation, where one department makes configuration decisions that later won’t meet the needs of another department.

And remember that it can take a long time to see results from a CRM. It’s not like other tools that provide immediate process improvements. Time and diligence will eventually create a path for opportunities and creative campaigns that can drive business results.