8 Creative Uses for a CRM Other Than Sales

8 Creative Uses for a CRM Other Than Sales

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One of the things I love most about our ActiveCampaign CRM is that it is organized in a Kanban view. Kanban is a method of organizing a process based on cards organized in columns. At the simplest, a Kanban board consists of a To Do column, a Doing column, and a Done column.
In the sales process, deals are represented as cards on the board, and they progress from left to right based on the sales process. ActiveCampaign takes this a step further by marrying our CRM with our Automations, which allow a user to trigger a sequence of events based on a change on the card’s attributes or position on the board.
But sales is only one part of the customer lifecycle. Depending on your use case our CRM and Automations can be used for a variety of different purposes, or not even sales at all!

Order fulfillment

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If you run an ecommerce retail store your work just gets started when somebody makes a purchase. Take advantage of our CRM to make sure every order gets fulfilled efficiently.
Use an automation to create a new deal when a customer places an order online. The value of the deal is the value of the entire order basket.
The deal can move through the regular stages of order fulfillment, Packed and Labeled, Shipped, Delivered, etc… This can be a great way to keep your customers up-to-date as their order progresses.
But don’t stop there! Add a series of stages to the order pipeline to prompt subsequent orders, gather feedback about how the process went, drive product reviews, social shares and more.
Example Stages:

  1. Order received – The customer built a basket of items and went through the checkout process.
  2. Packed and labeled – The order has been received and acknowledged by the staff. Items have been picked in the warehouse and the shipping label has been applied. At this stage a tracking code exists for the package and can be sent to the customer.
  3. Shipped – Your logistics provider has picked up the package and it is on the way to the customer.
  4. Delivered – Your logistics provider has informed you that the package has been delivered. This is an important notification to the customer. If there are any discrepancies in delivery you want to handle them asap.
  5. Follow-up – The customer has received the shipment and has been using the product for a few days. This is an opportune time to follow-up with them and see how the process went.

Bonus stages:
Create a cart checkout process. This would only apply to your users that have submitted their contact information, but it would enable you to quickly visualize where in the checkout process carts are being abandoned. It would also enable you to trigger different automations as the cart changes stages.

Recruiting pipeline

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Businesses need employees to grow. The less time you spend recruiting and hiring the right people, the more time you have for your company. Consider your CRM a way to organize and manage the hiring stages of your candidates.
Create a new Deal using an automation when you first receive an application.
Example Stages:

  1. Application received – The applicant has submitted their application via one of your job postings (LinkedIn, Hired, Lever, etc). This is an opportunity to tag the source of the application so that you can analyze which sources produce the best applicants.
  2. Application screened – Okay, I know nobody uses a resume anymore. The applicant has been “paper-vetted.” The amount of keg-stand photos in their Facebook timeline averages less than 2/year.
  3. Phone screened – Somebody on the hiring team had a phone conversation with the applicant, and there aren’t any glaring issues. The way they talk generally matches up with the experience described in their application.
  4. Interviewed – The applicant met with your organization either face-to-face or beyond a general phone screen.
  5. Offer made – You have notified the applicant that you would like for them to join the team. You have submitted an offer to the applicant and are in negotiations or are waiting to hear back.
  6. Offer accepted – Moves the deal directly on to the employee on-boarding stage (below).

Employee on-boarding

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Getting employees integrated into your organization is crucial to a happy and productive workforce. Creating repeatable processes that every employee goes through creates stability and consistency within your organization.
By utilizing a Kanban CRM you can take advantage of the automations to create a consistent experience for all of your employees, and efficiencies for you through automations.
Example Stages:

  1. Requirements – The hiring process doesn’t stop once both parties have agreed on compensation and requirements. Next comes the legal and policy requirements. The requirements stage is where the employee signs all the required documents, background checks are run, the employee is added to your payroll provider, etc…
  2. Infrastructure – This is the stage in the process where you prepare the employee’s hardware; new computer, desk, cell phone, car, building pass, etc…
  3. Orientation – This is the stage that gets kicked off on the employee’s first day of work. This stage typically includes things like 1st lunch, a presentation on the history of the company, a tour of the office, where the bathrooms are, etc… Orientation is typically the same experience for all new employees regardless of department.
  4. Training – This is the department-specific piece of the on-boarding experience. It is usually handled from a direct report, instead of somebody from HR. It will typically include things like how to
  5. Assessment – During this stage you want to gather feedback from the new hire to determine how they are acclimating to the new role. This can be anything from follow-up meetings to surveys or more.

Personal relationships

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With the advent of social networks, personal communication has become much easier, and much less personal. With a few tweaks it is easy to adjust your CRM to be a PRM, or a Personal Relationship Manager.
In the days when an email means more to a person than a Facebook message or a text, a quick phone call or hand-written letter can have a meaningful impact on your friends, family and neighbors. But “snail” mail requires a bit of planning to be on time.
A “PRM” can help you be proactive about your relationships instead of reactive.
Use date fields to manage your contacts’ birthdays and important anniversaries. Create an automation that creates a new deal for each correspondence, reminding you to call or write.
Integrate your pipeline with a service like lob.com (via webhook) to facilitate batch cards around the holidays.
Example Stages:

  1. Events this month – Use this column to quickly see what events (weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, etc…) are coming up for your friends and family this month. Is there anything that you need to do in anticipation of the event. Drop the suit at the dry-cleaning? Pick up a gift? Take time off work? Create different tasks depending on the type of event that is coming up.
  2. Next week’s events – These are the events that are coming up next week. This is when you should send a gift or a card. It is better to be a day early than a day late.
  3. This week’s events – Don’t forget to order those flowers!
  4. Today’s events – Anything you need to do last minute? Do you need to make sure to call somebody? Send them a SMS or Facebook or Snapchat message?

Content calendar

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Content creation should be a key pillar for any marketing team, but managing content can become complex and unwieldy. Getting content out on time, creating design assets, making sure content is proofed and approved before going online. It can be a burden.
Fortunately a Kanban-style CRM can be perfect for managing content. The ActiveCampaign Chrome plugin makes your CRM readily available so that you can add notes to your deal whenever the muses speak to you. Use an automation to notify key stakeholders that a piece is ready for review and reassign deals as they move through different stages.
Keep your whole organization informed by connecting deal stages to Slack via webhooks.
Example Stages:

  1. Idea – Make sure those brilliant ideas dont fall through the cracks. Anytime you have a good idea just drop it in the Ideas stage. To make it even easier, use the ActiveCampaign chrome extension to create a new “Deal” from anywhere you are online.
  2. Outlined – Use this stage to stub out the headlines and sub-sections of your piece of content. What requirements will you have from other departments? This is a good place to get them involved early as well.
  3. Drafted – After you have written the copy for the rough draft in a document editor like Quip, Draft or Google Docs. The content is finalized, but the layout and visuals aren’t yet.
  4. Draft Approved – The draft copy has been approved by an editor or peer. The article is ready to be developed into its final stage.
  5. Finalized – The draft has been finalized in the final medium (WordPress, Ghost, PDF) and design assets have been laid out. Pending approval the content is ready to be published.
  6. Final Approved – A peer has reviewed the final draft for any last minute copy changes and the design and creative has been approved as well. The content is ready for the public!
  7. Scheduled – Optional next step, depending on if the content is scheduled to be published at a specific point in time. For example if it is scheduled in WordPress to go live next Tuesday at 8am.
  8. Published – The draft has been published. Any further changes will affect the live version and should be minimized (for example any url changes should be avoided). The published stage can optionally include any distribution you will do – sharing on social, email, etc…

Feature release and new inventory

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It costs far less to retain an existing customer than it does to attract a new one. Use your CRM to maintain relationships with your existing customers. Create a pipeline to facilitate product releases or new products. If you organize your customers by persona it can be trivial to notify specific subgroups of an update or release.
Example Stages:

  1. Months out – A feature has been submitted as an idea and selected for development. It is not in the current sprint/s but will be soon. It is a good idea to be involved with the process to know what customer pain-points helped conceive of this new release. Those pains are very important to understand from a marketing level, as a feature naturally shifts focus to “what it does” from “why it does it” during the engineering cycle.
  2. Weeks out A feature is in the current sprint cycle, or the next sprint cycle. Creative or design teams might be digging into the product. It is probably a good idea to start identifying customers this feature will apply most to and tagging them.
  3. Days out – The feature is in the final stages of early development. During this stage you should start to make sure all of your drafts are getting approved by peers or editors. Start capturing all of your screenshots.
  4. Private beta – Time to announce the feature set to a select group of early adopters. This stage may or may not be part of your development cycle. The first few messages should be published using the tags identified earlier in the process (early adopter, etc…). Use the feedback you are gathering from your early beta testers to create content around the release.
  5. Public beta – The feature has been released to the public beta. Supporting messages should start to be drafted related to the feature. Other than adopting this feature, how can you solve the customer’s pain point with supporting content?
  6. Feature released – The feature is released to the wild. By now you should start tracking the feature’s adoption, and who will benefit the most from the feature. Incorporate this cross-section in your marketing automations and on-boarding. If a feature will benefit a user, and that user hasn’t adopted the feature yet, then you should make sure to communicate the benefit to them during an on-boarding sequence.
  7. Public retro – The feature has been released for several weeks now. What drove the biggest adoption by your customers? Can you attribute the adoption level to the feature itself or to the marketing campaign? What do you wish you had done for this release? What part of the process should you cut from the next release?

Customer Success

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Educating customers about your business is crucial to increasing customer lifetime value (CLTV) and reducing churn. Continue to “sell” to your existing customers my creating and actively managing a customer success pipeline in your CRM.
As a bonus, take advantage of ActiveCampaign’s lead scoring, site tracking, and event tracking to identify customers that signal that they are “slipping” and require a personal intervention.
Example Stages:

  1. Initial Contact – This stage is for new accounts, before a relationship has been formed with a Customer Success Manager (CSM), or the Customer Success team and the customer.
  2. Onboarding – This is during the initial introduction, when the customer is beginning to use the platform for the first time. The customer hasn’t formed habits on how to use the software yet, and is actively working with a CSM to accomplish their objectives.
  3. Monthly checkin – “Pop” customers back up into the CRM, to prepare for a regularly scheduled meeting.
  4. At risk; decreased activity – Companies should be actively listening to customer events using Event Tracking, to identify at risk customers. These are customers that might have been logging in and using the app with regular cadence, but for some reason haven’t done so recently. Reach out to them and see what’s going on.
  5. At risk; failed payments – Listen to more than just decreased activity. A failed automatic payment can be an indicator that a customer is slipping. Proactively reach out if this occurs and try and help the customer get back on track.
  6. At risk; cancelled – If a customer cancels, don’t just let them go without a fight. Reach out and try and realize their concerns.

Managing support requests

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Too often a customer will identify an opportunity to improve business and we forget to keep them informed. Resolve a customer complaint in the customer’s favor and they will do business with you again 70% of the time*. Considering the fact that a loyal customer can be worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase,** that is a sharp incentive to keep complaining customers in the loop!
Example Stages:

  1. Feedback ticket received – A customer has submitted a feedback ticket. This could be either a complaint or a compliment or a feature request. The customer should be notified that the ticket has been created, optionally who it is assigned to, and that it will be addressed in a timeline according to your company’s SLA.
  2. Rep assigned to ticket – Depending on if you handle ticket assignments automatically in a round-robin manor, or if you allow your customer service reps to “pluck” tickets from a queue.
  3. Ticket in progress – A customer service representative has taken the ticket and is actively working on discovering the solution. Only one ticket should be in progress at any time for a given representative. Use this stage to trigger a 3rd party time-tracking application to diagnose what type of issues are costing your organization the most.
  4. Ticket resolved – The customer service representative has discovered a solution and notified the customer that submitted the complaint. Any internal documentation has been updated.
  5. Resolution accepted – The customer has accepted the solution as resolved, and are satisfied with the result. If the solution doesn’t satisfy the customer, or if the customer’s issue was misunderstood, move the ticket back to the ticket in progress or rep assigned to ticket stage.

In Summary

This should not be an exhaustive list. Instead use it as a jumping off point for you to find inspiration to think outside of the box. Adjust the stages to suit your needs, and come up with your own alternative use cases for a CRM.
Let us know in the comments what innovative uses for a CRM you have come up with. We may even feature your example as a case study!
And remember automation tools exist to create efficiency in your life, to allow you to focus on what matters most; the relationships themselves.
* Lee Resources
** White House Office of Consumer Affairs 

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