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What I’ve Learned from Implementing CRM in a Small Family-Owned Company

Customer relationship management concept background. CRM vector illustration. Company Strategy Planning. Business Data Analysis.
Customer relationship management concept background. CRM vector illustration. Company Strategy Planning. Business Data Analysis.

“I just kind of fell into this career.” I’ve heard that from so many professionals, regardless of the industry. Except, oftentimes that isn’t exactly the case. Sometimes, all it takes is telling a story from our childhood to realize our career might not be an accident at all. Take me, it didn’t seem funny when a particularly nasty El Nino storm made my family — and all 50 other residents of our tiny rural town, Freestone — lose power for three weeks during my freshman year in high school. But my mom laughs about it now, because I grew up to know more about backup power and generators than anyone else in town!

That’s because I’m now the Sales Operations Coordinator for Duthie Power. So I spend my days supporting technicians who maintain generators like the one my parents finally bought. (Just after I moved out to college, of course…thanks Mom and Dad!)


Being Dependable means Knowing your Customer


Because I lived for 18 years in a remote area with frequent blackouts, I’m aware of how important time is when dealing with backup power equipment and concerns. I manage projects with hospitals, data centers, high-rise apartments, and homes that all rely on dependable power services for their essential operations. That’s why I’ve become so passionate about implementing a CRM (Customer Response Management) system for Duthie. Despite the challenges of learning and teaching new technology, I know that our CRM system helps Duthie team members serve customers and leads more efficiently than ever.

How? For starters, it’s the ultimate database for logging every detail of our clients needs and preferences. Even if you have a photographic memory, it’s reassuring to know that you can turn to a secure record to refresh your memory on a client’s service history in order to anticipate their future needs. I’m also able to share this data with my team more efficiently so any one of us can step in to assist a client when needed.


Customer Service is the Foundation for Everything


Of course, in Duthie we have a strong base of customer service to build on when integrating our CRM system. Our team members are familiar with going the extra mile (sometimes literally, when getting parts out to a customer on very short notice!) to make sure that generator rentals, sales, and services are as straightforward and personalized as possible. This mindset is essential for effectively implementing a CRM system, since CRM is just a tool to help team members accomplish those existing goals more efficiently.

The benefits go beyond current customers too; CRM is also a way for salespeople to take control of their leads’ individual personas and use them in a smart way. For example, our salespeople appreciate being able to easily track opportunities, pipelines, and forecasts. Since interactions are all entered in the system, it’s easier to see if (for example) a certain salesperson is great at nurturing leads to a certain part of the sales funnel, but still doesn’t close that many deals. This ability means that each salesperson can receive targeted development and training on how to get leads over whatever hurdle they’re facing.


Personalization is always Worth the Extra Time


So CRM is worth it — but it isn’t always easy to implement it across an entire company! That’s been one of my biggest challenges, and so one of the biggest ways I’ve grown working for Duthie. (Full disclosure: I myself had never worked with a CRM until Duthie had me head its implementation in 2019, so it’s been a great learning experience for me too!)

One thing I’ve discovered is that it helps to have 1-1 sessions with each person, where we go over the system’s most helpful operations for their particular tasks. I ask what’s working and what’s not working, spend some time (physically or virtually, if everyone’s working from home) at each person’s desk to make sure they understand the basic functions, and build up from there. Since we’re in a small/medium sized company with around 25 CRM users, it’s feasible to make sure everyone’s getting that attention.

I also want to report that some use breeds more use! Sugar CRM software, the system we use, has already helped our sales and service departments increase efficiency by facilitating communication and transparency between departments. This prevents many communication problems before they even begin, which makes for happier customers and cuts down on office staff busywork. Since everyone involved experiences less stress and more productivity in the course of a day, they’re more motivated to keep using the Sugar software.

In the end, CRM won’t solve all your problems — but if you have a team already passionate about customer service, it will help them to extend the reach of their individualized, personal touch. This focus on relationship-building with leads and clients, along with providing patient 1-1 training sessions, will help your company make the most of CRM.


This article was originally published by Corinne Rodriguez on LinkedIn.

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