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How to Rule at CRM

Over the years MVF has developed a world-class CRM strategy, and it's played a hugely significant part in our ability to deliver customers at scale for a wide variety of businesses.

Commitments to growing the CRM team, looking after its development and continual performance improvement mean we can virtually guarantee we’ll always be delivering high quality customers and big margins. Here are nine we stay ahead of the game.

1. Drawing inspiration from far and wide

If you only benchmark within your own industry or vertical you risk becoming blinkered or - worse - being a victim of success delusion. There are so many digital companies excelling at CRM and email, it would be foolish for us not to learn from them. It allows us to understand opportunity areas for growth and consider a range of opportunities, while also helping us avoid resting on our laurels, especially following periods of success.

Not all ideas can be organically generated – staying on the cutting edge of CRM is a significant challenge, so why not be inspired by the amazing work out there, and use it to drive our own success?

2. Breaking down the silos

Silos impede excellence. At MVF, opportunities to learn from other teams and individuals are ubiquitous, so we try to actively exploit this. We are part of a process, not a single entity, so it is essential we understand all of the inputs and outputs of the whole system across all teams and sectors to maximise our value provision. Cross-team collaboration can be tricky, but if the relationships are developed and the pathways between teams cleared for communication, it can benefit everyone.

3. Investing in the right people

Hiring right: a simple concept but an incredibly difficult one to implement. Our team invests a significant amount of time to bring in people who will seamlessly integrate, positively develop and, most importantly, challenge and raise the standard of the existing team. We put an emphasis on the values of our applicants as well as their skill set (particularly in the case of graduate hires). The implementation of a relatively flat structure within the team has also created an environment where even the freshest of hires is encouraged to challenge our most senior figures to drive us towards world-class performance standards.

4. Challenging, testing and improving

The delusion of perfection is great for the ego, but not so good for profitability and growth. We try to create an environment where a desire to be at the cutting-edge, and to improve, can lead to revolutionary wins alongside evolutionary marginal gains.

This manifests itself most significantly in our testing philosophy, where the status quo and any assumptions of excellence are constantly challenged. Ideas are tested across all messaging as regularly as possible. Team ideas sessions, testing sprints, retrospective success assessments and continuous rollouts of the positive developments allow creativity to be realised in terms of value added. We strongly believe that our testing values are a unique selling point for our team, and are a key contributor to our ability to beat industry benchmarks.

5. Failing fast, winning big

Failure is near enough inevitable when testing as frequently as we do. But it is not seen in an entirely negative light (something investigated in more detail here by my colleague Georgia Benham). The key is to act fast; notice where failure is occurring, and make changes quickly. We also apply the same logic when we meet with success. Accelerating activity when it’s successful means being able to scale at pace.

6. Learning empowerment

The returns garnered from investments in learning can be difficult to quantify, but it is something we definitely believe in. We are committed to the development of our team members. By attending conferences and courses and making the most of networking opportunities, external knowledge sharing and round tables to increase understanding, we are investing in our future success. Time out of the office is not seen as time wasted. We have experienced first hand the benefits of allowing the team to gain inspiration away from their desks.

7. A belief in the power of data

We rely on data’s ability to provide a foundation for ideas, and proof of concepts. All innovation should be hypothesis-led and data- or research-driven to ensure goal clarity and to reduce the likelihood of failure.

This philosophy does not only apply to testing; all decision making should be data-driven. Your aim should be to make the right decisions more often than your competitors do. Paying attention to metrics based on quantitative benchmarking is also vital, as they provide achievable goals that everyone can work towards, as well as measureable reasons for celebration.

8. Segments of one

The holy grail of CRM. We are constantly challenging ourselves to wave bye-bye to bulk messaging. Developments in personalisation, segmentation and analysis down to single subscriber level have improved our output, and email’s value to the company. The key to achieving this granularity is an in-depth knowledge of our customers and their key action drivers. Personalisation requires information so we try to collect and utilise it as effectively as possible.

‘Segments-of-one’ are also applicable to message relevance, timing and frequency. MVF is constantly building systems, content and, most importantly, knowledge, to ensure we are front-runners among our competitors in the race to deliver the best user experiences Personalisation is key to this end.

9. Extraordinary planning

To be the best, it is crucial to understand where we are now and our ideal future outcomes. Critical reflection is key here. We evaluate performance and processes, remedying errors as they materialise and working towards a vision for team improvement.

Road-mapping, company and team visions, value-driven-milestones, ‘blue-sky’ workshops and the creation of attainable goals all allow us to flourish. While long term planning is essential, we never fear short term success: it is a genuine momentum builder and can expedite future achievements.

Success breeds success – celebrate it, encourage it and harness its positivity to become better than you ever thought you could be.