Why ERP and CRM Integration is Key to Improving Customer Experience

With customers taking an increasingly digitally-driven path to purchase and demanding more personalized customer experiences, smart companies are making solid use of their customer data.

By doing so, they’re tapping into a profitable opportunity: 86 percent of buyers say they’re willing to pay more for a great customer experience.

But too many companies are still scrambling to turn the data they’re collecting into actionable, bottom-line results. Why? Because the data they are collecting too often goes no farther than the IT department that collects it — and that leads to lost opportunities.

Most companies are collecting data through two software platforms that drive customer experience: enterprise resource management, or ERP, and customer relationship management, or CRM. Both contribute directly to how a customer is prospected, spoken to and serviced — ERP to manage and analyze the customer experience, CRM to interface with the customer.

[Read more: How to Modernize Your ERP for a Multi-Cloud World]

The data these platforms collect should contribute to a company’s marketing, sales and customer service teams — a task made infinitely easier when the two platforms are integrated.

By integrating them and making the information available to the right departments, companies can elevate their customer experience and impact the bottom line. When done properly CRM and ERP integration act as a multiplier, stimulating new growth and conversions.

The benefits of ERP and CRM integration

Full visibility: ERP and CRM integration provides a better customer experience by enabling support, account and sales representatives to have full visibility into the customer. Without it, customer data can get fragmented or separated. With it, front and back office can operate at a higher level with no lags or gaps in information. And that leads to…

Better customer service: integration can then improve inter-departmental collaboration, for more accurate and better service to the customer. Giving employees a 360-degree view of the customer enables successful interactions such as:

  • Sales teams closing more deals as a result of being able to view buying history.
  • Companies producing invoices and collecting payment more quickly, as existing and new orders are synced without the need for manual data entry.
  • Time and labor savings as a result of more automated workflows that produce clean and reliable data.
  • Customer service teams can address changes or problems with service and proactively reach out to customers impacted by logistical delays and problems.

Identify signals of poor customer experience: ERP and CRM systems provide alerts in different ways, but each plays a key role in flagging problem areas for business development and customer experience.

  • ERP systems can flag issues that prevent a good customer experience as it relates to fulfillment, processing and anything “behind the scenes.”
  • CRM platforms can showcase the human interaction, including experiences with sales team members, customer service representatives and other interpersonal exchanges.

The “red flags” that each system is able to spot can help solve and prevent issues that contribute to a negative customer experience across the buyer’s journey. Collectively, they ensure that customers are satisfied in all ways throughout the lead nurture and conversion processes.

Share data, not permissions: ERP data is valuable, which is why departments want access to it. But giving too much access to an intricate system can be an invitation for trouble. By integrating ERP and CRM systems, ERP data can be provided to team members across your company, without sharing closely held permissions — and that benefits everyone.

Reduce overhead: ERP and CRM integration reduces the need for additional or separate employee training per system, while reducing the potential burden for your busy IT team. Though adoption may take time and consistency, the long-term advantage comes in the form of employees who are more adequately equipped to gather and analyze customer data for their own needs. Team members can devote more time to a “singular piece of software” and become well-versed in implementing technology to create a better experience.

The challenges of ERP and CRM integration

While the benefits are undeniable, it can be a challenging process. Keep these issues in mind when undertaking an integration:

Measure twice, cut once: Assessing your needs, challenges and desired business outcomes is crucial to a successful integration. Yet there is often a disconnect between what IT professionals think will work the best for their stakeholders versus what truly works for their end-users. Consider using an outside team with technology integration experience to assess the needs of your stakeholders and end users, the desired outcomes for your business and the capabilities of your internal IT team.

Commit the necessary time and resources: Lean IT teams can struggle, both finding the right expertise and carving out the necessary time to devote to this important project. Buy-in from the top ensures that time and resources are allocated to focus on the integration; an experienced partner means internal IT teams won’t be sidetracked by other responsibilities. A third-party partner will also help develop a realistic timeline for your integration.

Find the right partner

If your organization is ready to integrate your current ERP with a suitable CRM platform, consider partnering with Rackspace. We employ a “Process First. Technology Second.®” strategy that starts by assessing your business goals. Only then do we identify which technologies will deliver on those goals. Because we’re vendor-agnostic, we focus on finding the best technology solutions to help your business thrive. Our teams of ERP and CRM experts can also manage and optimize your systems, ensuring you continue to get the most out of your investment.

Want to make it easier for your staff to create exceptional customer experiences and set your brand apart in the market? Talk to a Rackspace expert today.

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Ashley Ansari serves as the Product Marketing Manager for Customer Success at Rackspace. Prior to joining the Rackspace team, Ashley ran Product Marketing for Inspire Software, a division of Innova Systems International. Ashley has more than 10 years of experience in technology marketing. She managed Integrated Marketing Communications for Tapestry Solutions, a Boeing subsidiary, that creates custom software for the Department of Defense and Defense Contractors to manage logistics, mission planning and supply chain. Prior to that role, Ashley has held various other marketing positions for commercial and custom software companies. Ashley earned a Masters of Business Administration, with a concentration in International Business, from Arizona State University and a Business Marketing Degree from San Diego State University.

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