The role of CRM is evolving. Its uses are diversifying yet it continues to be business critical, supporting many key business processes from social media to customer data management. It's not only enabling Sales and Marketing teams to align their processes more closely, but also feeding information across multiple departments. As such, it is fast becoming an 'enterprise-wide' portal with the potential to bring together diverse processes to drive more efficient and effective business operations, according to Liam Ryan, head of UK sales for CallPro CRM. This article is copyright 2015 The Best Customer Guide.

However, there are still companies that aren't using CRM solutions to their full potential And, all too often, organisations aren't taking a 'joined up' approach when choosing - and using - a CRM. This often means that the system they select may meet the needs of one department but can fall short for other departments.

Removing the silos
The ultimate objective of CRM is to improve the customer experience, however, a common problem with CRM systems is that customer information gets stored in silos which may not be accessible to all teams. The vital details that help to create a 360-degree view of a client can't, therefore, be capitalised on. There are multiple routes for customer communications, from telephone contact, to email and social media; the important thing is to make sure you can capture each touch point and different imprint from a prospect or customer.

If your solution isn't working for your teams, imagine the impact on your customers. Each customer has the expectation that every person they speak with at your organisation - whether they're in sales, marketing or finance - has a full understanding of critical information such as their account history, details and individual requirements. It surely goes without saying that the more information you have about your customers, the better service you can provide them.

The Big Picture
Selecting the right solution means taking a look at the big picture across your organisation - and thinking about how your organisation's requirements may evolve in the future.

It's important to get all teams involved from the outset when selecting a CRM system as what works for one department might not for another. The aim is to find a solution that the whole organisation buys into and which is flexible and adaptable to different requirements - whether the Sales team needs it for appointment setting, or the finance department needs access to payment history. As CRM increasingly touches every aspect of your business it's vital to get multiple teams' input on the decision. A strategic system that is pivotal to your organisation, not just a glorified sales database or account management tool, is vital. It should reflect each part of the organisation's relationship with the customer, at every stage of their journey.

Once the teams are on board make sure your employees know how to use the solution to its full capability, according to their department and its needs. Some CRMs are easier to implement and start using than others. Providing your staff with the relevant training will ensure they use the technology to its full potential.

Unified CRM
As CRM proves to be increasingly important in driving competitive advantage, taking this holistic, organisation-wide view of its role, will pay dividends. Supporting diverse processes and departments doesn't mean that you have to bolt-on different solutions to your CRM. Nor does it mean investing huge sums in bespoke, customised systems.

"The good news is that new CRM solutions are emerging which can meet multiple business functions to 'future proof' and support businesses as they grow. They can provide insights into activity across different communication channels so that teams have all the information they need at their fingertips to engage with prospects," concluded Ryan. "In this way, processes are more streamlined, individual customer interactions are tailored and customer relationships can be built and nurtured more effectively, over time. It means that CRM can have a truly transformational role within your business."