CRM Workflow 101: Benefits and Best Practices
“Relationships are hard” was probably the thought lingering in your head after your first middle school breakup. Now that you are older, the same thought may pop into your head when trying to build and maintain relationships with customers. 😅
Luckily, nowadays, most businesses can afford access to customer relationship management (CRM) software and, more importantly, create CRM workflows!
These workflows ease and automate a range of customer support tasks, account management tasks, sales tasks, and even tasks done by marketing teams, thus allowing employees to be more productive and put their brains and effort into tasks other than repetitive ones.
In this article, we will dig deep into what CRM workflows are and the benefits of implementing a CRM workflow management tool to give your business and teams the competitive edge they need to win customers and work at their best.
So if you have an appetite for learning more, keep on reading!
- What is a CRM Workflow?
- What is CRM Workflow Automation?
- The Benefits of CRM Workflow Automation
- How to Create CRM Workflows in 4 Simple Steps
- CRM Workflow Best Practices to Keep in Mind
What is a CRM Workflow?
While CRM is a strategy for managing customer relationships, a CRM workflow represents CRM-related actions performed in a sequence that has been carefully designed. Each action within this sequence is initiated in a CRM system only when set conditions have been met and is intended to get you closer to a specific goal.
What’s especially great about this approach is the fact that it allows you to have an overview of an entire process and thus keep track of progress. In other words, with a CRM workflow, you will know exactly what actions need to be performed to close a sale but also when you can remove certain actions from your to-do list.
And although some CRM workflows might still exist only in the form of diagrams or charts, most of them are encoded in CRM software serving as a foundation for the efficient completion of business processes.
What is CRM Workflow Automation?
So far, we have covered the theoretical aspect of CRM workflows, but there is one more thing we have to address before getting into any technical steps or explanations, and that is CRM workflow automation.
With CRM workflow automation, you can partially or fully automate processes or workflow parts in line with pre-defined workflow rules. This has been proven to be beneficial for boosting productivity and efficiency as well as reducing the amount of human input necessary to complete processes.
Good examples of CRM workflow automation can be seen in the automation of sales processes, which typically consist of a number of tasks ranging from lead generation to creating customer profiles and voicing customer needs, as well as the occasional customer complaint to other members of your sales team.
Here’s an example of a workflow outlined in ClickUp’s Whiteboards:
When enhanced with CRM workflow automation, the sales process can go from being hectic to having a trigger-based structure such as the one described below:
- A potential customer contacts your business by filling out a form
- Your CRM software sends out communication to this individual
- In case no reply is received, the CRM software will send a follow-up
- In case a reply is received, the CRM software will proceed with lead scoring and then notify the appropriate team about the potential lead
When to use workflow automation
Now you might be thinking, “Great! So I should use workflow automation whenever the chance, right?”
The answer is, it depends because not all processes are the same. You’ll have to assess which processes and teams could benefit from automating workflows and which won’t.
Workflow automation only works on mature business processes, not those that are inefficient or wasteful. If applied where a business process is not optimized, this approach might actually do more harm than good.
So, before diving headfirst into workflow automation, make sure it’s the right decision. If yes, you will have nearly unlimited ways at your disposal to create and customize automated CRM workflows!
The Benefits of CRM Workflow Automation
Boosting productivity as well as efficiency and reducing the use of human resources, we have already established these as the main benefits of CRM workflow automation. But are there more? Yes, plenty more!
- 👩💻 Less human error: CRM workflow automation can almost completely eradicate errors made by humans when completing repetitive tasks and activities. These errors can range from minor transcription errors to forgetting to reach out to a customer
- ⚡️Greater productivity: Repetitive tasks are not only error-prone but can also hinder productivity. With CRM workflow automation, you can take repetitive tasks off your hands to give you the time and energy to focus on more critical, thought-provoking, and or creative activities
- 🙋More transparency and accountability: Within big teams or even medium-sized teams that are juggling a lot of tasks, it can become a challenge to keep track of task completion as well as individual team member performance. With the help of CRM workflow automation tools, managers and supervisors can provide a transparent overview of all tasks, and team members will benefit from automated notifications, reminders, and triggers to keep them up-to-date with their tasks and create an environment that supports optimal performance 💪🏻
- 🤝 Better customer communication and engagement: Keeping a good line of communication with customers can be tricky, especially when managing numerous accounts at once. CRM workflow automation can help you engage with them automatically, at the right moment, and at every step of the customer journey
- 😌 More work satisfaction: It goes without saying that team members and employees are much more satisfied when there are fewer mundane and repetitive tasks on their plate. Give your team the gift of time to allow them to work on the more important and creative part of their jobs
- 💰Lower costs: CRM workflow automation can also help cut costs by reducing inefficiencies and allowing companies to reallocate funds into product development, marketing campaigns, and so on
- 🚀 More scalability: CRM workflow automation allows you to create consistent processes and allow you to focus on reaching more customers and focus on growing your business
How to Create CRM Workflows in 4 Simple Steps
Now that we have touched upon the most important ins and outs of CRM workflows, it’s time to go through the steps necessary to create them.
1. Decide which CRM processes need workflow automation and begin planning your ideal workflow
As mentioned earlier, not all processes are automation-worthy, so the first step in your CRM workflow creation process is to decide which ones you want to automate. As a rule of thumb, try to avoid automating processes that require human input to a considerable extent, as automation is more suited for repetitive tasks done earlier in the funnel (sales funnel, marketing funnel, etc.)
To help you out with making this decision, here is a list of a few automation-worthy processes you might want to keep in mind:
- Lead generation and qualification
- Contact generation and management
- Customer onboarding
- Customer lifecycle management
- Deal management
- Email marketing
- Outbound sales
- And more
Once you’ve determined what processes you’d like to automate, then it’s time to plan your workflow to determine any potential blockers and ensure all steps are covered. You can use ClickUp’s Whiteboard feature to create your workflow diagram from scratch or use the CRM Template by ClickUp to help you map out your processes.
2. Build and customize your CRM
Before you get to implementing your CRM workflow, you have to select a CRM tool that can facilitate that and meet your business needs. If you fail to do so, you will not achieve the level of efficiency and productivity you were aiming for.
Our recommendation for all of you that want to build the perfect CRM is ClickUp—a powerful productivity platform and all-in-one project management software program. ClickUp offers hundreds of advanced features and a fully customizable platform.
This gives teams of all sizes across industries the flexibility they need to configure ClickUp to fit their needs. And that includes building an effective customer relationship management process.
To build your own CRM in ClickUp, simply choose the custom view of your choice, from List, Kanban, Table view, or other custom views in ClickUp. Then create tasks for each of your prospective and current customers, add Custom Fields to add important details about each customer, and Custom Statuses to organize and keep track of your customers’ journeys.
Need an example or help getting started? Use our customizable CRM templates such as ClickUp’s Simple CRM Template to give you a good foundation to start with.
Once you start using ClickUp for CRM project management, organizing and cultivating customer relationships will become easier than ever. More importantly, as your business grows and develops new needs, you’ll be able to adjust ClickUp to fit your growing needs. No need to start over again and never lose client information again!
3. Set up your workflow automation to cut down your most frequent manual tasks
You’ve got the plan, and you’ve got the tool. Now it’s time to set up your custom workflows.
This process will differ from tool to tool. And while we can’t cover everything that might be included in each instruction set, here’s a list of the most common steps that need to be completed:
- Creating tasks
- Building automation
- Setting up alerts and notifications
Out of the tasks listed, building automation is the most important step, that’s why it should be done using a tool that makes automating routine tasks easy.
ClickUp comes with an automation feature that can set manual work on auto-pilot and thus help create a seamless CRM workflow. With ClickUp, automation can be set up using custom actions and triggers.
And the number of actions you can automate is quite impressive, surpassing 50 at the time of writing this article.
You have the option to create your custom automation or use customizable automation templates consisting of pre-set triggers and actions that can be applied to any Space, Folder, or List to save time!
All in all, implementing a workflow in most advanced CRM workflow tools shouldn’t take more than a few minutes and a few steps. And in case you end up not being satisfied with the end result, no worries, as everything is flexible and can be adjusted as needed.
4. Test the workflows first to avoid chaos
📣 “Testing 1, 2. Testing, 1, 2, 3…Is everyone’s workflow functioning well?” 📣
The only way to get an accurate answer to this question is to run tests! Once you have your CRM workflow in place, run it to determine any flaws and how effective each automation is.
Otherwise, you run the risk of unhelpful automations and confusion across your team.
Test the emails sent by your CRM workflow
Within your CRM workflow, emails are bound to take on an important role as they are a crucial part of CRM itself. By using ClickUp as your project management and CRM tool, you’ll be able to send and receive emails directly from ClickUp tasks by using the Email ClickApp feature.
But before you send emails, make sure you test your emails with tools like Mailtrap—an email delivery platform that lets users test, send and control their emails. ☝️
With Mailtrap’s Email Testing, you can preview emails, analyze their content for spam, validate their HTML/CSS, and do much more. On top of that, as Mailtrap Email Testing works on the principle of using virtual inboxes, it creates a safe environment that comes with no risk of spamming users with testing emails.
Bonus: Email Alternatives!
To start testing your CRM workflow emails with Mailtrap Email Testing, you simply have to create a Mailtrap account and use the dedicated email address of your virtual inbox as the recipient address.
Once you click send, the email should arrive in the virtual inbox very shortly, where you can then proceed with inspecting and debugging.
CRM Workflow Best Practices to Keep in Mind
Great CRM workflows are not a product of just copying and pasting. Instead, for their creation, you need an approach unique to your business and adherence to best practices. ✅
Below, we have outlined a few of those best practices we believe will make the whole process a bit less daunting and increase the chances of your CRM workflow being easy to use, time-saving, and a tool for making you more money.
Know what to look for in a CRM tool 👀
We talked about the selection of CRM tools in the “How to create a CRM workflow” section of this article, so by now, you should be aware of how important picking the right tool is.
But as we do understand that knowing what to look for in a CRM tool could be a challenge for many, given all the available options, we have compiled a list of CRM tool features that facilitate the creation of good workflows:
- Ease of use: Intuitive and require little to no technical knowledge
- Accessibility: Accessible from different devices
- Customizability: Can be tailored to fit specific business needs
- Flexibility: Ability to adapt and change to meet business needs
- Scalability: Allows you to grow and create and run consistent processes
- Integration: Can be connected to other work tools for a seamless experience
- Custom automation: Gives you the power to create custom automation that fits any use case
- Support and training: Provides customer support and training resources
Of course, you can add other things to the list of features above and make it as comprehensive as necessary to aid you in your quest for efficient CRM solutions.
Remember, there are endless options on the market, and if you are clear on what you need, you should have an easy time filtering the good ones from the bad.
Integrate third-party apps 🤝
Nothing improves workflow efficiency as integrating third-party apps with your CRM tool.
Depending on the tool you are using, along with third-party app integrations, you might also have access to APIs and webhooks, which sync information between systems.
Don’t be afraid to connect these to your system to enable yourself and your team to go through work with as few distractions as possible.
Regularly review the effectiveness of your workflow 🔎
Regardless of how perfect a workflow might have been when you created it, due to company and even market changes, it will require updating sometime along the line. To find the right time for making the necessary updates, performing regular workflow audits is a must.
When doing the audits, keep an eye out on everything from minor to major details, identify bottlenecks, and ask your team how the workflow is working for them.
Efficient CRM Workflows Start With the Right Tools and the Help of Automation
Creating a workflow might be intimidating, but trust us when we say that implementing CRM workflows will be worth the time and effort as it will enable you to make the most out of your customer relationships.
As a last piece of advice, your CRM workflows will and should be unique as your business is also unique. So now it’s up to you to figure out what the needs of your business are and implement workflows that match those needs using a CRM tool like ClickUp. 😊
Dzenana Kajtaz is a Technical Content Writer at Mailtrap with years of experience as a writer, editor, and content marketer. She specializes in covering tech-related topics but loves creating fun and engaging content for other content niches as well.
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