The Not-So-Secret CRM Secret

Hi- I’m Haley and data is my best friend.

No, it’s true. Since taking on the role of director of member services at the Columbus Chamber, I am now responsible for member engagement and retention, and I have spent hours upon hours with data. From reporting on the number of businesses attending Chamber events, to the types and amounts of services being used, and which segment of the membership is using them, I have become obsessed with data.

In fact, the dashboard I have built to reflect these numbers is the first thing I check in the morning and the last thing I look at before leaving at night. I make decisions daily based on the numbers collected. I am allocating resources and justifying these decisions with this data. I quote these numbers at board meetings and forecast future performance based on these numbers. Data has officially taken over my work world. And, until recently, it was the data that I thought I was obsessed with, until I realized that my true obsession was the CRM software used to capture it.

Haley Sherman
Haley Sherman

It’s true that a CRM, or customer relationship management system, can give a manager insights and help drive decisions about the business. A CRM has the potential to be an organizational game changer, but the most important aspect of your CRM isn’t in the product or the features it offers: it’s whether or not it’s used. And, I’m here to tell you that when it comes to CRMs, all the clichés are true – garbage in equals garbage out, you get out what you put in, and you can’t manage what you can’t measure. You can buy the most expensive, widget-laden system and have nothing to show for it if your team doesn’t use it.

Since taking on this new role, one that relies so heavily on data, I have become the most annoying, broken-record manager on the team (seriously, just ask them). Not a day goes by without hearing me talk about our CRM system, whether referencing a specific report or data field, or not-so-gently reminding colleagues to use the system. My mantra has become something like “If it isn’t in the system, it didn’t happen,” or so says my team. And, honestly, to my CRM haters, I say – you’re welcome. A year from now, having fully embraced the CRM system, our organization can only be in a better place than it is today. Regardless of the outcome, we will have clarity around how the team spends its time with member businesses and what services those members are actually using. We will be able to make clear and confident decisions about which resources to continue and which to evaluate and ultimately leave behind. Making informed decisions is always better than making uninformed mistakes.

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