Common CRM Problems and Solutions 2020

CRM problem

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Updated: 1 October 2020

We break down seven of the top issues businesses face when implementing, securing, and utilising CRM – and what your business can do to solve them


Since you’re here, we’ll assume you’re already fairly well acquainted with the benefits a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can offer your business – that is, the problems it solves.

But what about those it creates?

Like us humans, no CRM system is perfect. And, before you reach the golden lands of souped-up sales, juiced-up marketing campaigns, and faster customer service that CRM offers, chances are you’ll encounter a few potholes along the way.

But don’t go hitting the panic button just yet – these common CRM problems can all be solved, and your business’ system (and approach to customer relationships) will be all the stronger for it.

So what are these common CRM problems we speak of, you ask?

We’ve broken down seven of the problems most frequently cited by business owners as being the major early pitfalls of CRM software – and how you can tackle them. Whether you’re still thinking about a CRM system or have installed one recently, this guide will help you sidestep the most common issues.

Let’s explore.


#1: Under-utilisation of the system

So you’ve installed your CRM, and your staff are using it… but are you getting the most out of your software’s features and capabilities? 

Problem

There’s a good chance you’re not. Statistics tell us that almost half (43%) of CRM users take advantage of less than half of the features their software has to offer. But why?

Is it laziness? A lack of employee engagement, or resistance to using the system?

In some cases, yes – but for many teams under-utilising their CRM systems, it’s simply a lack of awareness of what the software can do

CRM is often mistakenly used interchangeably with CMS (contact management software), or seen as just a database for storing customer records. While CRM does do this, it’s really so much more.

The power of CRM lies in how it allows you to manipulate key data – identifying trends, analysing buyer habits, and generating accurate sales forecasts. CRM isn’t just a place to store information, but an intelligent set of tools to empower smarter, savvier sales, marketing, and customer service CRM efforts.

Chances are, your team just aren’t aware of all that yet.

Solution

Thankfully, there are a couple of ways around this one.

The most obvious is to explore the full functionality of what your CRM software can do. You can do this by getting in touch with your CRM supplier’s support team via phone or live chat.

You can also tap into your CRM provider’s online knowledge base for tutorials, videos, and articles to get you started. Many CRM suppliers also have platforms for dedicated customer communities: where you can ask questions, participate in threads, and learn more about the nuances and intricacies of your CRM software.

It’s then up to you to relay these benefits to your team – though if that’s too much, you can always arrange a live demo with your CRM supplier, who’ll do it for you.

Of course, it may be the case that you don’t need all the features offered by the CRM. This is important to understand, as you may be able to downgrade to a more modest plan that’s better-suited to your current needs – and save some cash in the process.

Jump to #5: the system is too expensive


#2: Security issues

So your CRM system has a lot of features – way more, in fact, than you first suspected. But how secure is it?

Problem

This common CRM problem can be expressed in a single question…

“How do I keep my data safe?”

The answer? Well, that depends…

Solution

How you keep a handle on your CRM system’s cyber security will depend on the mode of deployment you’ve selected: on-premise or cloud-based.

On-premise software is deployed on servers physically located at your business’ premises. Cloud-based software’s servers are managed and operated by the company you choose to provide your CRM system.

If you’ve selected an on-premise solution, you’ll have more control over your system’s security, data, user rights, and setup. As such, you’ll need to take a more hands-on approach to securing your servers. This includes:

  • Installing firewalls and antivirus technology
  • Ensuring physical access to your servers is limited and controlled
  • Regulating employee behaviour in and around the location of your servers
  • Securing your local internet connection with strong passwords
  • Regularly updating your operating system

If you’ve selected a cloud-based system, your chosen CRM supplier should relieve you of most of the duties of CRM cybersecurity. 

We should note – because cloud-based CRM is operated over the internet, many business owners worry that it’s not as safe. But don’t fret – cloud-based systems these days are as secure (if not more so!) than their on-premise counterparts.


#3: Choosing the wrong software

It may seem an obvious error, but this common CRM problem is a particularly insidious one. Because by the time you realise the software you’ve deployed is the wrong one, the damage may already have been done…

Problem

So, you’ve picked the wrong system. Why fret? It happens. 

Whether it’s getting sucked in by the siren song of a good deal, or caving to high-pressure sales tactics, many business owners end up saddled with a CRM that’s simply not right for them.

As for the system, there are many reasons a particular CRM might not gel with your business or industry. Maybe you’ve picked software that specialises in marketing automation (such as HubSpot), when actually your priority is selling – and what you really need is something like Salesforce or Maximizer

You might even be going down a blind alley with CRM, when what you really need is project management software, such as monday.com.

Perhaps you’ve selected a plan with too many (or too few) features. It could even be that the system’s interface just doesn’t resonate with you – it may be hard to use, or unpleasant to look at.

So what can you do about it?

Solution

Well, you’ve started by exploring our CRM content… so you’re already on the right track. But why not go one step further, and compare quotes with us?

It’s free, takes about 30 seconds, and is undeniably the quickest, most hassle-free route to your dream CRM system. Here’s how it works.

Simply provide us with some details about your current CRM setup. Do you currently use a CRM or a CMS? Which features are you most interested in? How many users will the system need to support?

Once that’s done, we’ll match you up with one or more CRM suppliers. Not just any suppliers, though – exclusively ones that will be a good fit for the specific needs of your business. They’ll then get in touch with you directly to explain more, and provide quotes tailored to your requirements. Problem solved!


4: Out-of-date information

People change, and so does their data. So how do you ensure that your business is always working with the freshest, most accurate information?

Problem

CRM does a lot. Capturing leads via your websites and social media channels, feeding these to your sales team, and managing all that customer data from a central location? Yep, it’s a lot.

Naturally, though, CRM doesn’t do everything. And, if you’re expecting it to update your client information for you, you can think again.

It’s a common CRM problem. After a while, CRM systems get bogged down with outdated client data. Old phone numbers, switched companies, new job titles –  things are constantly changing, and you need to keep up.

Here’s how.

Solution

First of all, give your CRM database a spring clean. Remove contacts whose emails are bouncing, or have been consistently unresponsive to your calls. Get rid of (or re-engage!) any unclosed leads or prospects overstaying their welcome in the system.

You should also think about deleting any email templates you no longer use, along with any old reports. This will serve the dual purpose of refreshing your CRM system, while freeing up storage space – though if the latter’s an issue, you can always purchase more.

You can also ensure your customer data is accurate by re-engaging lapsed customers with fresh deals and discounts. Run an email marketing campaign that offers benefits in exchange for a customer’s details. Your CRM database will rejuvenate before your very eyes!


#5: The system is too expensive

CRM breaking the bank? Let’s take a look at how you can trim costs…

Problem

CRM software is profitable. So profitable, the stats suggest, that it can increase revenue by over 40% per sales representative.

That said, there are many reasons why you’re not seeing the ROI you expected from your CRM just yet. Implementation issues, privacy hurdles, poor staff engagement with the system… any or all of these common CRM problems may make you feel like you’re not getting enough for your money.

Here’s what to do if your CRM is proving too expensive right now.

Solution

Simple… downgrade!

CRM is almost always priced in tiers. A basic version will be cheap, while a more feature-rich version (which you’ve probably ended up with) requires considerably more investment. So, by downgrading, you can free up cash flow.

That said, you don’t have to sacrifice features to save money. CRM is priced per user, per month – so you can cut down on costs by reducing the amount of your staff who have access to the system.

And if times are hard and neither of the above options are feasible, you can lump for a free plan. Free CRM software is severely limited, and we tend not to recommend it for ambitious businesses. But it might be just what you need to take a breather, recalibrate your CRM strategy, and save some money to boot.

For more information, head to our page on CRM software costs, updated for 2020.


#6: Privacy and ethical issues in CRM

According to the statistics, 74% of CRM users believe that the software has enhanced their access to customer data. But at what cost?

Problem

G, D, P, R. By themselves, four harmless letters. But when combined, they stand for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – game-changing legislation introduced only a couple of years ago.

The GDPR ushered in a strict set of rules about how businesses are allowed to collect, manage, and utilise customer data. Since collecting, managing, and utilising customer data is sort of a CRM system’s raison d’etre, you can start to see the kind of roadblocks this legislation throws up for your team.

But it’s not just about striving to stay compliant (and avoid the hefty fines for those who get it wrong). There are obviously some distinct ethical issues floating around the storage and usage of customer data, and you owe it to your customers to protect their privacy.

So how do you juggle compliance and customer care, while striking a balance between profit and principle?

Solution

Ask The Experts
Question symbol

How do you navigate the privacy and ethical issues in CRM?

Rob Binns

To find out, we got in touch with Alex MacLachlan, CRM Marketing Manager at a prominent London-based lead generation outfit.

Alex, how would you describe the privacy and ethical issues involved with CRM? Are there any?

“The main CRM privacy issue is that people give you their personally identifiable information, and you are then responsible for its security and, for a lack of a better word, its “use”.

“As someone with access to effectively every piece of customer data we have, I need to be really careful with how I analyse it and how I can share it (note – I generally can’t).

“I think even in a world without GDPR, I would always make sure that these customers have consented to what we are sending them. One, because otherwise they are going to get upset and complain, as you are effectively breaking their trust. Two, if I was in their shoes (being signed up to so many emails as I often am), would I deem this as acceptable?

“This speaks more about ethics than privacy. People have trusted you with their personal data, and it’s your responsibility as a CRM/data controller to only send them what they have permitted you to – anything outside of that and, in my view, it’s unethical.”

What tips do you have for small email marketing teams, to ensure they remain GDPR-compliant?

Here are my top three tips.

1. Make sure everything is logged 

“Consent statements, opt-in/out messages, and other data processes all need to be logged – ideally on a monthly basis. You need to be able to state where you’ve got the customer data from, what they’ve consented to (and when), and what you’ve been sending them.”

2. Limit the number of controllers

“The more people you have that are able to change opt-in/out statements, consent pathways, and data fields, the more potential mistakes there are to be made – and the harder they are to trace. If you keep a tight list of who can change things and stay on top of your CRM system’s user permissions, you’ll stay on the right side of the legislation.”

3. Remember that GDPR doesn’t just apply to marketing

“Make sure your processes for all other aspects of your business are GDPR compliant. A big one is hiring; how do you share CVs? Where do you dispose of them once the candidate has been interviewed? You can very easily land on the wrong side of GDPR with this sort of thing.”


#7: Low employee engagement

Who is Fred, and how you can bring him into the 21st century?

Problem

No matter how hard you try to implement a new way of doing things, there’ll always be resistance. 

Think of Fred, that grumpy, belligerent salesman who was chewing the fat by the water cooler when dinosaurs still roamed the earth. This relic is set in his ways, opposed to change – both technological and social – and has no interest in any of this ‘new-fangled’ CRM software you’ve put in front of him.

Fred is of course an archetype, but there are plenty like him – employees who, for whatever reason, refuse to engage with new ways of doing things

Data tells us that six in ten salespeople are unwilling to change the processes that work for them, and – according to Tech.co – more than one in five businesses cite ‘embracing technology’ as the biggest challenge facing their company.

So how do you get your employees using your CRM, and engaging with the myriad features and possibilities it offers?

Solution

Well, you do it by showing them just how powerful your CRM system can be.

After all, CRM shouldn’t be seen as something to be forced upon your salespeople. It makes their jobs easier! 

Likewise, the carrot almost always works better than the stick. Offer juicy incentives for your top earners, while rewarding the most creative marketing campaigns.

Once the Freds in your office catch on to how much time and effort a CRM can save them – and that it’s a shortcut to that bonus you’ve offered – they won’t be complaining.


Next steps

You’re pretty well-equipped. Not only do you know what CRM does – and how it can benefit your business – but you have a comprehensive understanding of the pitfalls involved with implementation and uptake, too.

Armed with knowledge of these early CRM perils (and their solutions, of course) you’re in a position to seize control of your business’ destiny; forging more meaningful, enduring relationships with your customers.

If you already have a CRM, that is. 

For those among you yet to find the right CRM supplier, don’t fret – we can help. You have a couple of options here:

  1. To do more research, head on over to our page on the best CRM systems for small businesses. We’ve researched, rated, and ranked eight leading suppliers to make things simple for you.
  2. Compare quotes right here, right now. Hit one of the buttons below to get started with our quick questionnaire. When you’re done, we’ll match you with hand picked CRM suppliers, who’ll be in touch with tailored quotes.

Good luck, and thanks for reading!

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Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

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