Customers are at the heart of any business. But when customer data is spread across multiple systems, there is the possibility that information will go missing, creating black holes along the customer journey.
Most companies still have siloed systems where the CRM system fuels their business with new business, and the ERP system allows them to optimize profitability. By combining these systems, companies have a single source for all customer data and transactions from contact details, shipments, and credit history to quotes, orders, and customer service requests. So whether someone from sales, accounting, or operations pulls up a customer record, they see the same complete 360-degree view of the customer.
This consolidated information is more accurate and efficient, enabling a superior customer experience. Here are some of the processes that benefit the most from data integration.
1. Improved sales processes
When salespeople have access to the order history from their ERP system in addition to the customer data in their CRM system, they stand a better chance of reaching out and closing a deal while they have a window of opportunity. For example, if salespeople know the frequency with which repeat customers place orders, they can proactively contact the customer before the next predicted order to up-sell or cross-sell. If they know when customers are experiencing equipment problems from a customer support database, they can contact them to upgrade and purchase a newer version of an older product.
With a CRM-ERP integration, a sales representative can prepare proposals more quickly, using the most accurate pricing information including any promotions or discounts. The latest information about product availability will result in more accurate shipment dates, and can allow for special rush orders if merchandise is out of stock and the customer needs to receive their order urgently.
2. Quicker revenue recognition
With CRM-ERP integrations, salespeople have all the necessary information before making contact with a customer, including any outstanding invoices and credit history in real-time. This can speed up the collection process while ensuring that proposals include the most relevant payment terms. If the system enables signatory approval from accounting for financial terms and conditions, the proposal can be approved even in front of the customer to shorten the sales cycle.
Order processing is quicker because when a salesperson enters a quote or order in the CRM system, the data is automatically transferred into the ERP system, eliminating the need for manual data entry from emails, sales printed reports, or completed paper forms.
The free flow of data between CRM and ERP systems with automatic updates of changes in customer details and orders will also enable companies to ship products quicker with fewer errors, resulting in faster product delivery and invoicing.
3. More accurate product forecasting
CRM gives you a picture of which marketing campaigns are generating engagement while ERP reveals the products that are selling right now and the products that are not. This data combined can be used by operations to forecast product demand with more accuracy.
This is important since having too much or too little inventory directly impacts the bottom line. No company wants their products sitting on their shelf. Excess inventory ties up cash that could be better used elsewhere.
Having shortages or stock outs is detrimental due to missing delivery dates, decreasing customer satisfaction and tarnishing a company’s reputation for reliability. If items are out of stock, it can also force rush orders, which is one of the main supply chain risks. In addition to the negative impact on the overall production performance, there are additional charges incurred by requesting expedited deliveries.
4. Less data administration
When you integrate CRM and ERP systems, you create a seamless workflow that totally eliminates the hassle and inefficiency of entering the same data in multiple systems. This not only saves time and labour hours, it minimizes the possibility of data entry errors that result in unreliable data. With integrated CRM and ERP systems, sales and accounting can both enter transactions or change customer records and have the data updated system-wide automatically.
5. Long term flexibility
Automatic updates also keep both systems in sync when changes to business rules create new information requirements, which impact the way the database is defined and structured. This is something that can happen very frequently with today’s dynamic business environment. Any alterations made in the ERP database will be simultaneously reflected in the CRM system and vice versa including the addition or removal of custom fields, new entries or changes in the database. Since the data in both systems will be defined the same in an integrated solution, you will have data that is consolidated, consistent and reliable. You won’t require manual updates or workarounds to reconcile reports and piece things together to create one comprehensive view of the customer.
Data integration adds a new level of efficiency but only when it’s done for the long term and not for the one-off integration. You want to avoid a situation where for each time there is a requirement to connect with a new partner, another hand-coded solution is required and every new connection has to be developed, implemented, and maintained in order to share data with all the other devices, components, and systems in the network.
Integration platforms that support multi-point integrations provide a more flexible environment that is optimised to deal with different vendors’ technology stacks and to optimise between stacks. Fault-tolerance, resilience and elasticity, monitoring and performance management capabilities are built-in so that all data can be managed in a standard way across systems increasing reliability and reducing maintenance time.
A seamless real-time CRM-ERP integration provides accurate relevant data when it’s needed most, for all customer facing employees resulting in improved customer service. Employee productivity and job satisfaction are increased while ensuring stronger user adoption of applications due to having more relevant and reliable data.
There are many benefits of a CRM-ERP integration, but in the end it’s very simple, putting the two together adds up to increased revenues and customer satisfaction.
Stephan Romeder, Vice President of Global Business Development, Magic Software Enterprises
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