CRM Selection Checklist: How to Find the Right Customer Engagement Solution for You

Contact center agent smiling talking on headset.

The value of an excellent customer engagement Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution today cannot be understated. They can help make your agents more productive and help them deliver faster responses without sacrificing quality, all while your customers feel the effects in the form of smooth, consistent support experiences. However, picking the right solution for your company’s specific needs can be tricky, with many different factors to consider before you can feel confident in your decision. Having a CRM selection checklist handy throughout this process is essential to ensure you find the right solution for your specific customer engagement needs.

To help get your research started, we’ve prepared the following CRM selection checklist to help you through this process.

Kickstart your Search with this Customer Engagement CRM Selection Checklist

1. Determine your core business needs

Before jumping into your research and tackling the rest of this CRM selection checklist, it’s essential to set the foundation for precisely what you need from this solution. Coordinate with key decision-makers and stakeholders to ensure all your organization’s ducks are in a row, and you can select the right customer engagement CRM solution for you.

Example questions

Business objectives

  • What overarching business objectives are you hoping to accomplish with this solution? Is it to empower agents to resolve cases more effectively and speed up agent training? Track customer interactions across all channels through one system in one place? Obtain first-party insights into your customers’ changing needs and expectations?
  • What contact center KPIs do you want to track and improve (e.g., Average Handle Time (AHT), First Contact Resolution Rate (FCR), email response times, reduce agent training time, etc.)?

Current state

  • What is your current performance in terms of your KPIs? What goals would you want to achieve?
  • Where do gaps exist in your current CRM solution, which must be addressed with this new solution?
  • What features would you consider high-priority, and which ones are more “nice-to-have”?

Dedicated resources

  • Who will be the primary users of the solution? What would they need from this solution to do their job more effectively?
  • What are your support team’s needs and pain points with your current customer engagement CRM solution? Your marketing team’s? Your IT team’s? Other critical internal departmental needs?
  • Who will be managing the implementation of the solution?
  • Who will lead the management of the solution once implemented?

Additional Resources

  • What is your timeline to choose and implement this solution?
  • When do you need agents to be trained and start using the solution?
  • What’s your overall budget?

2. Consolidate all your cases in one place

Email. Phone. Live chat. Social media. SMS. Customers today can contact companies for support in several ways. They want the same experience across all of these channels, too.

A customer engagement CRM solution should provide the ability to funnel all cases that come in from your different sources to the same place and save agents from having to jump from program to program. At the same time, it should help agents better prioritize cases and improve average handle time (AHT) while helping simplify your analysis of agents’ support efforts. Not to mention helping ensure a smooth and consistent experience for customers.

Example questions

  • What are all the channels the solution supports?
  • Does the solution display support cases from all of your current support channels in one place?
  • Does it allow agents to respond to customers via the same channel through which they reached out?

 

3. Ensure dynamic agent support and risk management

When it comes to case management, speed is of the essence. According to HubSpot, 90% of customers find it essential to receive an immediate response to their support questions. That means agents need to process incoming cases, research, and provide useful answers faster than ever. That goes double for agents working live chat or on the phone.

At the same time, they must detect high-priority requests and issues and escalate to the proper stakeholder right away when they occur to help limit any potential negative impact.

Ensure your CRM checklist touches on items that can help boost agent productivity, while helping make their day-to-day tasks easier.

Example questions

  • Does the solution automatically query your internal knowledge base for your agents, based on information already entered into the case?
  • Does it dynamically suggest the next best actions in real-time to the agent?
  • Can it auto-create new content based on existing sources to fill knowledge base gaps?
  • What features are available to simplify and streamline the case escalation process?
  • Can it help suggest goodwill to offer customers (e.g., 10% discount coupon)?
  • Does the solution track goodwill that has already been shared with specific customers to help prevent goodwill abuse and fraud?

 

4. Enable workflow automation

Speed is a key factor for agents. However, it shouldn’t come at the expense of the quality of support they provide. Especially, at the risk of angering customers expecting quick and useful answers. Customer service automation can play a crucial role in helping agents meet these expectations.

For example, consider how an agent’s day is already hectic. Not only must they process incoming requests and address customer issues quickly. They must also ensure the CRM solution is kept up to date with the latest and accurate customer information, without missing a beat during their conversation with the customer. A CRM solution should help handle background tasks so that agents can focus on what’s most important: delivering a positive customer experience.

Example questions

  • Does the solution auto-populate case fields using information the customer has already shared with your company in the past (email, live chat, chatbot, etc.)?
  • Does the solution automatically update existing fields based on new information shared during the case?’
  • For email support, can the solution auto-generate responses based on detected issues and topics, after which the agent can review before sending?
  • Can the solution detect intent, topics, and sentiment of incoming emails and triage the case to the appropriate agent?
  • Does it offer the ability to escalate issues to key stakeholders? If so, when a case is escalated via another agent or a self-service channel (e.g., chatbot), are they given a history of the conversation up to that point?

 

5. Integrate with other systems

Your customer engagement CRM solution should not be an island. It should live among and work with your existing systems. It should be a time-saver for your agents and ensure any information relating to your customers is synced, accurate, and readily available at a moment’s notice.

Example questions

  • Can the solution auto-populate case fields based on information from our other systems, such as account data and purchase history?
  • Does the solution integrate with order management and product inventory tools? Loyalty databases and rewards programs? Other types of systems?
  • What does the integration process look like?

 

6. Confirm levels of configurability and adaptability

Every business is unique, each with its specific needs and preferences. By the same token, what you and your agents need from your CRM solution may evolve. Your CRM solution should be flexible and allow configurations to ensure it’s always set up to optimize you and your agents’ productivity and provide the right information that always reaches the right person at the right time.

A robust CRM solution should already have all these items in place for you. However, it should allow for some things to be configurable to your specific needs. That is, without requiring extensive customization which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Example questions

  • What aspects of the solution and platform can be configured to our needs? Or is it strictly out-of-the-box?
  • What settings and workflows can we configure?
  • Do configurations require assistance from the vendor? What can we do ourselves?
  • What configurations would require us to go through our IT team (if any)?
  • How easy is it to add new contact channels as they become popular?
  • How easy is it to adapt it to any new processes we develop or modify?
  • What other solutions and technologies does the vendor offer to help us tackle new business objectives?

 

7. Leverage in-house implementation (vs. third-party implementation)

Ensuring your customer engagement CRM solution is implemented correctly from the start is vital to limit issues and ensure you get the most from the solution. Not to mention to provide positive experiences for your customers as they interact with your agents.

Working with a software vendor that can offer guidance during this process – instead of leveraging a third-party implementation partner – ensures you’re working with someone with in-depth knowledge of the solution and who can see to it that the system evolves as your business does.

Example questions

  • Will the vendor be responsible for implementing the CRM, or will you require third-party help?
  • How long will it take to get everything up and running, based on your specific needs?
  • What professional services are available during the implementation process and afterward?
  • Is there self-service documentation available regarding implementing the CRM solution?
  • What parts of the implementation process can we manage ourselves? What will require us to work with our IT team?

 

8. Ensure compliance, data security, and permissions management

Having the proper measures to comply with the latest security and privacy regulations – not to mention addressing customers’ growing concerns – is essential. Simultaneously, ensuring all key stakeholders using the CRM are assigned the proper permissions is key not only for data security purposes but also to limit potential accidental updates.

Be sure that your CRM selection checklist and research helps you pick out a Look for a customer engagement solution that alleviates these concerns.

Example questions

  • Does this solution help you comply with your internal data security and privacy requirements?
  • Does it help you comply with privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA?
  • What about regulations set forth by relevant federal government agencies (e.g., FDA, FTC, and HHS in the United States)?
  • How does the solution help make these compliance processes simpler?
  • Does it provide accurate audit trails and validated systems for reporting?
  • Does it provide the ability to program workflows to process consumer requests like “right to be forgotten” quickly?
  • How many users can be added as users of the CRM tool?
  • What permissions can you set for each user?
  • What does the solution offer in terms of data backups to prevent data loss?

 

9. Obtain clear pricing

As with any solution, it’s imperative to confirm the pricing model for the CRM solution you’re considering. What will it cost you today, and what’s included? What might cost extra down the road?

Having a clear idea of the pricing model will help better inform key decision-makers and eliminate potential surprises in the future should you need to make any updates to your CRM solution down the line.

Example questions

  • What are the fixed platform fees associated with this solution? What are the variable costs?
  • The solution price includes how many users/seats?
  • What contact channels does the price cover?
  • Are there any charges related to integrations/API calls?
  • What fees are associated with professional services?
  • Does the solution pricing include the cost of implementation?

Consider Astute in your CRM selection process

Astute’s award-winning customer engagement platform gives contact centers everything they need to beat their KPI goals, help their agents be more effective and productive, and deliver fantastic customer experiences. In addition to our agent desktop CRM, Astute also offers AI-powered customer service chatbots and email automation solutions, along with a suite of other robust customer engagement solutions to empower your team to succeed, and check off the items in your CRM selection checklist.

Schedule time to see a live demo.