5-Minute CRM Test

For those of you who like to make quick assessments, here is a short test that will help you pinpoint whether your CRM system is successful, and whether it makes sense to think about a replacement, or whether the issues have root causes in other areas. Experience shows that quick assessments are often just as accurate as lengthy ones, but if you'd like a more thorough and detailed version of the test, please skip ahead to the next section. To get the most accurate results on this test, respond as candidly as possible to each question rather than trying to figure out what the "right" answers may be. If you are not directly involved in customer-focused activities, you will need to involve the managers responsible for those groups to complete the test. They should also be encouraged to be candid. To make sure that they are not overly optimistic in their responses, spot-check a few with individual contributors in the various groups. Some questions may simply not apply to you (for instance, if your CRM system does not have a support component, questions about support don't apply.) Just skip them.

Table 2.1. The 5-Minute CRM Test

Disagree Strongly



Agree Strongly


Customers know how to contact the sales team (by phone or electronically).



Customers know how to contact the support group (by phone or electronically).



Sales reps know how customers should contact the support group.



Support reps know how customers should contact the sales group.



There are existing, documented (written) processes for handling customer queries.



Sales and support reps can locate the documented processes for their area within 2 minutes if they are unclear about them.



There are well-defined metrics for customer-focused activities.



Customer-focused employees have formal objectives that relate to the metrics.



There is a defined, documented (written) process for creating new knowledge base documents.



The knowledge base is growing daily.



When you hire someone, it takes less than one business day to create a new account for that individual.



The tool improvement request with the highest priority is less than 3 months old.



You are using a commercial CRM tool.



You are running your tool on a release that is currently supported by the vendor.



Important customer information is accessible within the tool (rather than in a file cabinet or unrelated system).



There is a customer portal available to conduct sales and support business.



Customers require no training to use the portal.



Your CRM tool supports a knowledge base.



Line managers are getting regular metrics that are immediately meaningful for them (with no Excel massaging required).



E-mail from customers is automatically loaded into the system (no manual cut and paste).



Knowing the name of a customer, a sales employee needs less than 1 minute to locate the assigned sales rep, pending deals and existing support cases.



Knowing the name of a customer, a support rep needs less than 1 minute to locate the assigned sales rep and existing support cases.



It takes less than 4 hours to train a new hire to use the system.



Creating a new account in the system can be done in less than 5 minutes by someone without a programming, technical background.



Sales reps can enter a new prospect into the system in less than 2 minutes.



Support reps can enter a new case for an existing customer in less than 2 minutes.



A support manager can get a list of the current open support cases in less than 2 minutes.



A sales manager can get a current forecast in less than 2 minutes.



A marketing manager can get a hit rate of the last 3 campaigns within 2 minutes.



The current system costs less than $1,000 per employee per year to maintain.



Add up the checkmarks in the Disagree and Disagree Strongly columns. If you have more than ten you have a CRM problem. Read on to determine what might be the root cause. Questions 1 through 12 address customer processes rather than the tool. If many of them are rated on the Disagree side (either Disagree or Disagree Strongly), concentrate on fixing the processes rather than the tool. Once the process issues are addressed, take the test again to determine whether a tool change is also required. Questions 14 through 30 are both about the tool itself and how it has been customized for you. Questions #14 (running on a current release), #19 (useful metrics), and #30 (cost) are usually good indicators of how well the customization is working rather than the tool. Questions 21 through 29 (speed of doing various common tasks) are not silly time trials. Because tools won't be used if they are not efficient, it's important to see how quickly common operations can be performed. Problems in those areas can be caused by specific implementations as well as by the tool itself. Question 30 is highly sensitive, since most companies do not track maintenance cost per seat to begin with, and since many normal variations occur as a result of the intricacies of the customizations on the one hand and the size of the user base on the other (a small user base means a higher cost per seat, all other things being equal.) Include in the cost figure: any depreciation costs on the license that you are still carrying; support and maintenance fee to the vendor; the same costs for the server, database, and other tools required by the CRM system; and the compensation costs for your internal support team. I deliberately chose a low number to make you think about how much you're spending so don't despair if your cost is only slightly higher than $1,000 per year.