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5 red flags your CRM solution is outdated and costing your business

With strong customer relationships at the heart of the hospitality sector, it’s easy to see why Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help businesses enhance that interaction with patrons past, present and future. Yet while an essential and commonplace activity, how this is done – and via which channel (or channels) – requires a considered strategic approach.

From upgrading the customer experience and understanding their needs through the power of data, to automating communication such as all-important booking reminders for guests, CRM systems are a best practice way of embedding intelligence into the process.

The right approach and technology will ensure sales and service teams are working from the same page and also that data from across the business is being used to accurately forecast, report and improve the customer journey. However, just because a CRM system is ‘online’ doesn’t mean it’s working efficiently; more often than not, older CRM solutions leave gaping holes in procedures – a risk businesses can’t afford to take when it comes to exceeding expectations and going above and beyond to retain customers through these challenging times.

Here, we look at 5 red flags which indicate your CRM solution is outdated and costing your business, and why migrating to another platform should be top of the menu.

It’s too complex to use 

A CRM solution that’s tricky to navigate, and thus a headache for admins attempting to make use of the system, is of course counter-productive for any organisation. Staff may start utilising their own processes, meaning the investment in any such efficiency is wasted. Not only that, but if teams are shunning the CRM system, it makes the task of integrating business processes for a seamless and holistic view of the company’s key operations and finances impossible.

Adopting an intuitive solution that provides access to data support, low and no-code functionality ‘out of the box’, and automated system updates – paired with user-friendly interfaces, customisable dashboard and workflow functions – makes employees more likely to embrace it with open arms. Enhanced by machine learning and AI, the automation of routine, time-consuming tasks also makes the integration of CRM a less daunting experience.

It lacks modern functionality

With the hospitality sector arguably hit the hardest, there’s never been a time of monumental change that matches the transformation in recent years – in part due to the acceleration of technological advancements caused by the pandemic. Functionality such as integration of legacy customer databases, communication platforms (such as social media channels), and other crucial business data should therefore be a standard feature of any CRM system.

With social media now one of the main outlets for customer opinion and feedback, businesses across the industry need a CRM solution that integrates this vital outlet, in order to manage reputation, customer satisfaction and expectation.

Similarly, being able to see the bigger picture when dealing with customers on issues such as invoice payments – without switching from one system or screen to another – is not only hugely efficient, but also key in delivering a seamless customer experience, managing relationships and capitalising on conversion opportunities.

It offers little or no support

From glitches in the system to a breach in security, lack of support when it comes to maintenance can bring businesses relying on software systems to a grinding halt. When solving these issues is the responsibility of the organisation, then it can be a costly problem to resolve – both in time taken to resolve it, and downtime lost in the process. A delay in access to vital customer records could bring a customer service team to a standstill, while lack of access to accounting and financial records could be equally damaging to productivity and profits.

Migrating to a cloud-based CRM solution would entirely negate these issues, with platforms hosting the infrastructure. That way, users are always running the latest version, updates are automatic, and there is full support available. To be beholden to unpredictable, on-premise systems is not only counter-intuitive for this reason, but damaging for any business in the long-term should that reputation be compromised.

Furthermore, most legacy systems have product lifecycles and when they come to an end, such as a number of Microsoft Dynamics AX solutions, that means no more new functionalities and – more worryingly – an end to security updates. Resisting a move when a CRM system is out-of-date will hinder growth at best and present compliance and security challenges at worst.

It hasn’t embraced the cloud

While accessing important documents, business data and communicating on the move were once important (and often vital) aspects for many modern businesses, the permanent fixture of hybrid working has forced organisations sector-wide to upgrade their infrastructure to accommodate this; either this or implement new systems entirely to cope with the ongoing requirement to facilitate the new normal. For CRM systems yet to offer cloud access to this intelligence, businesses are less likely to operate efficiently – and from a single version of the truth.

The modern functionality afforded by cloud-based solutions is unrivalled, empowering businesses with access that’s not always possible with an on-premise system. The server requirements, IT maintenance and security, and data support are all the burden of the business in an on-premise system. This can be costly, and certainly restrictive when it comes to features, functionality, and real-time visibility that any organisation will benefit from having.

The organisation has outgrown it

For businesses across the hospitality sector, an investment in scalable CRM may be cost-prohibitive, or perhaps just seen as unnecessary. Fast forward to when the company is expanding, and owners soon start to understand the limitations of their start-out system – and the consequences of that decision. By manually adding to processes that align with these new goals, this can often prove time-consuming – with no way to properly integrate or automate them. Advanced data input methods, fast workflow creation, and dashboards providing real-time information on key business areas are vital to running an efficient and profitable business, wherever it sits within the sector.

Yet without the right solution in place, none of this can be achieved. If key elements of the CRM system are not integrated, then areas such as sales, marketing and customer service are operating in separate siloes. This is bad news for relationship management, as any agent dealing with a customer should be able to see a full customer profile with up-to-date personal information, purchasing history, and any data on previous issues. Furthermore, if this information sits in disparate systems, the opportunity to access up-to-date information that can help inform vital business decisions is lost.

As an organisation grows, so does the customer base, employee head count, and process requirement. If a scalable solution isn’t implemented to accommodate this, growth will soon be restricted. With a cloud-based solution deployed online, the infrastructure is maintained and automatically updated with new features to meet industry demands – and in line with evolving technology. While future-proofing may seem like an impossible task with the rapid rate of evolution, hospitality businesses can be assured that they’ll always have access to the latest technology, when using a system that cannot be outgrown.

Ian Robertson is the Sales and Marketing Director of BrightBridge, a UK-based technology consultancy offering Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions. Ian has over 30 years of experience in ERP and CRM implementations. Prior to forming BrightBridge, Ian worked for a major US IT corporation, where he acquired a depth of knowledge around time saving efficiencies through technological integration automation.

BrightBridge is a leading Oracle NetSuite and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Solution Provider and Sage Business Partner, with offices located in Leicestershire and Surrey. Each of BrightBridge’s leadership team has been in the IT Industry for over 30 years. Its expert operations team has far-reaching knowledge and expertise having worked with all the major software vendors. Now in its seventh trading year the firm has over 100 customers serviced by a business of 35 people based across two office locations. It serves businesses in various vertical markets including B2B/B2C retail and wholesale distribution, FinTech, not-for-profit and professional services.

The company was formed in early 2015 by a group of colleagues who had worked together in ERP and CRM applications for many years. BrightBridge expanded in February 2018 with the acquisition of a similar NetSuite Solution Provider and in March 2020, the company strengthened its portfolio again with the addition of a team of people from an established Microsoft practice, facilitating the creation of a new service and support arm.