by Tony Vidler
What makes it difficult is the struggle to define what is “right”. As with most things in business, one should begin the decision making journey with a clear view of what you are trying to achieve. Begin with the end in mind in other words.
I believe that Peter Drucker summed up the importance of the client database best when he said: “Knowledge has become the key economic resource and the dominant, if not the only, source of competitive advantage.”
We (and our clients) are drowning in information….but knowledge is a very different thing. Information is cheap and abundant, whereas knowledge is invaluable. The systematic collection and organisation of the knowledge of our clients is where the real capital value lies within an advice business because that is the opportunity to unlock future value.
Unfortunately (in this part of the world at least) it is difficult to find an “ideal” CRM system. In part that is because “ideal” differs from practice to practice.
Some of the factors that one should consider in trying to find the ideal advisory CRM system would be:
One would expect any decent CRM system to provide basic features such as the ability to categorize and segment client bases, be able to personalize customer data fields to suit the individual adviser business, and to be able to record critical policy or product information in a meaningful (and searchable) format, so I am ignoring those basics here but they most certainly matter.
One thing which may seem inconsequential but will matter enormously to your use of a CRM is the ability to customise terminology on product or policy information fields. To be blunt, the product terminology used in the USA is not the same as the terminology used in NZ or Australia. In fact, the terminology in Australia and NZ is not the same…which downgrades the effectiveness of a CRM if it is providing reports to clients with jargon that nobody understands.
I am by no means an expert on CRM solutions….or even an expert on technology issues. I am an avid user of technology and software for business efficiency however and I do know what has frustrated me and rendered some whizz-bang products to being something rather ho-hum as far as my business is concerned. These have been the big ones for me as I work through the process of considering my own needs, and the ones that I would suggest advisers be asking a lot of questions about when considering any CRM system in the future.
How an advice business collects, stores, retrieves and uses it’s customer information is where it has the greatest opportunity is to leverage knowledge and create further value for clients and the business itself in the future.
If you doubt that then take a lesson from the banks, as that is what they have done better than anyone. They have mastered the collection and use of customer knowledge to create massive revenues. You could too.