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Building relationships: The need for CRM in the construction industry

Building relationships: The need for CRM in the construction industry

Jake Callaway, of 4C, says it’s time for the construction sector to adapt to the digital revolution

The construction industry is not exactly known for its innovative use of IT. However, Jake Callaway, Managing Director, MENA at 4C, argues that it’s time for the sector to adapt to the digital revolution and lay the foundations for long term success.

Construction is a complicated business- for companies to be successful, they must engage with a variety of stakeholders that includes building owners, government agents, engineers, architects, subcontractors, suppliers and residents.

The digital revolution has made it possible for the communications, and processes these engagements entail, to be streamlined as never before. And yet, ‘digital’ has never been a defining aspect of the construction industry and the case for digital transformation is still perceived to be a challenge to the status quo.

Lost potential

The construction sector is built on relationships, but unlike other verticals such as banking, hospitality and manufacturing wherein this also holds true, the segment has done little in the way of utilising technology to manage these relationships.

Most often, awkwardly integrated systems are deployed which capture data from the many people who interact with the company and stored it in disparate silos. Therefore, instead of creating a unified view of information across the business, organisations are left with unstructured data that holds little value beyond its primary function, representing a tremendous lost opportunity.

Back to the blueprints 

Construction companies must shed their reluctance to adapt to the digital revolution and begin to lay the foundation for long term digital success. For many, the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution will serve as this platform as it affords a host of benefits that includes streamlining of processes by providing crucial information right when it is needed. Consider the volume of information a typical company has on its hundreds of clients and suppliers which is often disorganised. An intuitive CRM system can organise this data and make it easily retrievable, thereby increasing the efficiency of customer service and the quality of supplier relationships.

This near-instant availability of relevant and up-to-date data can also provide accounting, marketing and business development teams with all the information they need to execute their operations in the most convenient and effective manner.

Going a step further, most leading CRM systems such as the Salesforce platform feature modules designed and customised for the construction sector that specifically address key challenges. For example, inbuilt contract templates and document controls that can be leveraged to optimise the proposal process.

Selecting the right solution 

With no shortage of CRM vendors in the market, picking the right provider can be a daunting challenge. Convincing arguments can likely be made for most of the market leaders, however, there are three key features any solution under evaluation must deliver.

Solid data structure that captures the project’s assets and relates them. For example, ‘Development > Plot >Building > Floor > Apartment’. Having a solid data structure with the right relationships will help infinitely from a sales, marketing and services perspective. You can easily run analytics and segment data to help identify opportunities and service customers quickly and efficiently. Customer experience is key and it starts here!

ERP integrations are often a vital component of successful construction CRM implementations. Financials and scarcity are important tools to drive user adoption and a successful integration with backend systems can really boost the importance and use of CRM as a front-end tool.

The ability to generate payment plans and understand availability from within the CRM gives sales representatives the confidence to work from one system, with the knowledge that the data they are working with is accurate. This has an empowering effect and leads to an increase in productivity.

Effective distribution of new leads is a vital component of any CRM solution aimed at the construction sector. The CRM solution therefore needs the ability to adhere to pre-defined rules and quotas to assign new leads accordingly and allow the company to react as quickly as possible, ensuring that the assigned sales representative has all the information necessary to contact the lead. Quotas are important to ensure that all new leads are serviced with a level of professionalism and accuracy, based on internal metrics such as skillset and performance.

CRM software represents a new way for the construction industry to manage engagements with customers and suppliers. Implemented correctly, it has the potential to streamline key processes and deliver a real and rapid return on investment. Engaging with technology partners such as 4C ensures these benefits are realised and can thus lay the foundation for digital transformation centred on business enablement and enhancement.

To find out more about 4C click here.