What is CRM Integration?

CRM integration refers to the process of connecting a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system with your finance system to create a unified view of customer data.

This is particularly useful to connect up customer billing and information about your customer with billing. And in the context of charities, to connect up donor reporting with spending that is being paid for by the funder.

This integration can help organisations be much more aligned with their customers/donors/funders which is critical for successful engagement and retention.

In the case of charities like INGOs, being able to show seamlessly how money is being spent is fantastic for the fundraising team to be able to raise more funds.

Understanding CRM Integration

CRM integration involves connecting an organisation’s CRM system with other tools and platforms the organisation uses. 

By doing so, customer data can be seamlessly passed between different systems, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information across all touchpoints. 

Through CRM integration, organisations can harness the power of their data by consolidating it in one central location. This allows them to gain a 360-degree view of their customers, donors/funders, which can be leveraged to improve engagement.  In the case of charities, it is particularly useful for joining up financial information and critically how money is being spent with fundraising efforts, without time consuming and potentially inaccurate spreadsheets.

With the ability to automate repetitive tasks, organisations can reduce manual workload, mitigate the risk of human error, and focus on more high-value initiatives.

Benefits of CRM Integration

CRM integration offers significant benefits to organisations across different industries. Organisations that have implemented CRM integration solutions have reported a range of advantages, including:

1. Unified View of Customer/Donor/Funder Data

    Integrating CRM systems with other platforms enables organisations to maintain a comprehensive view of customer data. 

    By synchronising customer and donor information across different systems, organisations can analyse and utilise the data in more meaningful ways. This allows organisations to personalise the customer/donor experience.

    2. Streamlined Sales, Marketing and Fundraising Processes

      CRM integration can significantly streamline sales, marketing and fundraising processes, improving efficiency and productivity. 

      Integrating platforms such as email marketing tools, social media, and CRM allows organisations to target customers/donors/funders more effectively and deliver personalised campaigns. In particular in the case of charities, align raising money with spending money, to facilitate raising more money.

      This ensures that sales, marketing and fundraising teams have access to real-time insights about customers and prospects, allowing them to make informed decisions at all stages of the customer journey.

      It also allows management of the ‘gap’ between traditional CRM opportunities and Finance system invoices ie quotes, sales orders and pledges.

      3. Improved Customer Service

        CRM integration can also help organisations to improve their customer service capabilities. Integrating CRM with customer support channels such as live chat, email, and phone enables support teams to directly access customer data. 

        This allows them to resolve issues more efficiently and deliver personalised solutions to customers. As a result, organisations can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

        4. Enhanced Overall Organisational Efficiency

          Integrating CRM with other platforms can also improve overall organisational efficiency. By streamlining processes and automating tasks, organisations can reduce operational costs and improve productivity. 

          This allows organisations to focus on high-value activities, such as customer retention and growth strategies, and ultimately drive growth.

          In the case of charities, the link between raising funds and spending funds is critical.  An integrated common data model, with CRM and Finance either closely linked or in the same system, facilitates this process.

          CRM Integration Strategies

          Integrating a CRM system with other platforms can be done using various strategies. The approach chosen by an organisation depends on its specific needs and objectives.

          Pre-Built Integrations

          A strong CRM and finance system platform will have pre-built integrations. These integrations are easy to set up and can provide immediate benefits.

          Custom API Development

          For organisations with more specific needs or unique systems, custom API development may be the best approach. 

          This involves creating a custom integration between the CRM system and other platforms using the API (Application Programming Interface). This approach gives organisations more control and flexibility over their integrations.

          Third-Party Integration Services

          Another option is to use third-party CRM integration services which offer pre-built integrations with hundreds of apps and platforms and allow for easy custom integrations as well. 

          These services can save time and effort for organisations, particularly if they are integrating multiple systems.

          ERP: single source of truth, single data source

          Another strong strategic contender is an ERP system, that includes both finance and CRM within the same single data source.  This completely eliminates the need for integration at all.  This is offered as standard by NetSuite, as an example, and is one of the key reasons why we support NetSuite ERP Platform for charities, social enterprises and organisations of all sizes.  IT integration costs and the complexities of data management of separate systems is eliminated.  The option to integrate a known and liked CRM such as Salesforce remains as an option. 

          CRM Integration Best Practices

          Successful CRM integration requires careful planning and execution. By following best practices, organisations can ensure a smooth and efficient integration process. Here are some tips for achieving successful CRM integration:

          Data Mapping and Validation

          Before integrating your CRM system with other platforms, ensure that the data is mapped correctly. 

          Validate your data to ensure that it is accurate, consistent and complete. This will help avoid data inconsistencies, duplicates and errors that can arise during integration.

          System Compatibility

          Make sure that the platforms you wish to integrate with your CRM system have compatibility with your existing platforms. 

          Ensure the systems can communicate with each other, share data and function properly. Conduct compatibility tests to identify any potential issues before deploying your integration.

          Data Security

          Protecting your customer data is crucial. Ensure that your CRM integration is secure. Employ data encryption, access controls and data backup policies. This will reduce the risk of data loss, data breaches or unauthorised access to sensitive information.

          Monitoring and Maintenance

          Monitor your integrated systems regularly and perform maintenance tasks to ensure that they operate smoothly over time. 

          Review logs, monitor performance metrics and address any issues that arise promptly. Regular system maintenance ensures that you avoid system crashes or other issues that may adversely affect your operations.

          Ideally, have a user interface that does not required ‘deep IT’ in the event of data issues and where data errors can be seen and corrected.

          Choosing the Right CRM Integration Solution

          When it comes to choosing a CRM integration solution, organisations should consider several factors to ensure the best fit for their needs:

          • Identify Organisation Requirements and Goals
          • Check Compatibility and Integration Ease with Existing Tools
          • Assess Scalability and Flexibility for Future Growth
          • Review Security and Compliance Standards
          • Evaluate Cost Effectiveness and Customer Support
          • Could CRM and Finance be run in a single data source ERP

          Key Takeaways

          In today’s competitive landscape, CRM integration has become a critical strategy for enhancing operational efficiency and improving customer experiences. 

          By synchronising customer, donor and funder data across different systems, organisations can gain a unified view of customer and funder interactions and streamline marketing processes.

          In the context of charities, giving fundraising teams simple, transparent donor reporting that aligns incoming fundraising with outgoing spend can be a key advantage in fundraising efforts. 

          Effortlessly integrate your CRM systems with Cloud Doing Good's expert CRM integration services. Our skilled team offers a smooth, end-to-end solution, simplifying your integration journey every step of the way.

          Speak to a systems accountant today

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