Manual CRM Input Syndrome - Don't Let It Happen to You

By Geoff McQueen, AffinityLive

We are in the midst of an automation revolution. From real-time traffic notifications on our phones to the driverless car, automation technology is making it easier to do the things we have to do and freeing us to focus on what we want to do. While these new technologies are improving our personal lives, many of our professional lives are still beset with dumb, manual tasks ripe for automation. If you've ever copied and pasted an email into your CRM, updated three or four databases with the same information, or had to run a report from your timesheet system to update your project or finance system, you'll know what I mean.

The good news is there are ways to automate many of these mind-numbing, error-prone, irritating tasks at work. In this article I'll focus on common technology used by almost all businesses - the client database, or CRM - and cover three reasons why embracing a new class of smart CRM technology makes sense for your business as well as your sanity.

You Have Better Things to Do

Let's start with saving time. What better things could you and your colleagues do if you weren't copying and pasting client emails or manually adding new folks to multiple places (address books, CRM, accounting system, etc.)? The time your sales team or account managers take to manually enter touchpoints into these systems is time they're not spending selling or, in other words, doing the work they were hired for. Aside from being a pain in the neck, decade-old habits actually cost you money twice - the time wasted and then the revenue or productivity lost from in the time you and your colleagues spend in manual CRM entry. 

Technology now exists to automatically sync your client emails and yours, link your calendar to the CRM (so any appointments you enter - even on your phone - show up automatically), and some can automatically add new contacts to the CRM whenever they get in touch with someone at your business. If you and your colleagues are still doing any of these things manually, you're wasting precious time doing things that are below you.

You Need to Trust the Data

The fundamental problem with most CRMs is that they rely on manual human input, which itself relies on discipline and attention to detail - something most of us will admit we don't have in abundance, especially when we're busy. As a result, we really can't trust the data in our CRMs. Whether we have to remember to copy and paste in an email, manually add a new contact or account, or make sure we log a call or meeting with a contact, the fact this data isn't manual means we can't trust they've been done by everyone in the company. Having bad data is often the biggest barrier to achieving ROI from CRM software, because if a businesses can't trust their CRM for accuracy, what is the point?

They Should Work for You

CRM technology should work for you and make your life easier, but often we need to be the one to remember what to do before the CRM comes into play. Relying on our memory is a recipe for disaster. We're all forgetful, and even more so when busy. While we can focus on a handful of tasks or keep a list of near-term things to do, remembering to contact a client you haven't spoken to in months isn't something that comes naturally to many. Smart CRM technology, however, can automate and eliminate a lot of reliance on memory. By combining data you can trust with rules-based automation (e.g., this client is a VIP and no one at the company has had an interaction with them in more than 45 days), smart CRM systems can automatically reach out to prospective clients or remind you to do so - something only the longest and most manicured to-do list in the world can hope to match. 

Whether you're a CRM expert or someone trying to hit your quota and keep clients happy, most agree the biggest weakness of any CRM system is the reliance on people to input data when they are lacking the time and memory to do so accurately. The good news is that there's a new generation of smart CRM platforms that take care of data entry and follow-up, saving time, increasing productivity and making sure things don't fall through the. Being one of the early adopters of this new technology can give your business the edge in a competitive market. And as a bonus, you and your colleagues won't hate your CRM anymore.

San Francisco-based Geoff McQueen is the founder and CEO of AffinityLive, a company that creates cloud-based email automation, customer-relationship management, project management, service and billing software for the professional service sector. Prior to founding AffinityLive, McQueen created a digital agency in Australia.