Part 2: Customer Relationship Management – Getting Started

A Point of View from Guest Blogger Les Stern.

So last time I asked you: “What are you waiting for?” in terms of starting a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program for your organization. And I’m thinking, maybe you just don’t know how to get started.

Getting started means answering three questions.

1. Who in our organization should be involved?

First, you need to sell the concept to everybody. CRM is an enterprise-wide initiative that needs buy in from the highest levels (see last post on the benefits of CRM).  The team that actually selects the CRM vendor should include the following:

  • Marketing (to spearhead the process)
  • IT (to deal with the data)
  • Finance (to ensure all assumptions on ROI, etc. are correct)
  • Physician relations (if marketing to physicians is a key strategy)

2. Who should we contact?

Stay away from generic CRM companies that have a technology solution that they claim they can “adapt” to healthcare. Instead, look at CRM providers that offer:

  • A database specifically designed for healthcare
  • Built in segmentation or modeling that can quickly target the right people for specific campaigns (the ideal target is likely to need the service and be profitable)
  • Reports that can easily answer all your questions, from targeting to tracking ROI
  • Staff that are healthcare CRM experts
  • An easy to use tool, if you do not want the CRM provider to do everything (both options are available)

3. How do we make our decision?

There are several excellent providers, but no one provider is the best choice for everybody. Here are the key steps:

  • Initial presentations at your location, focusing on how their solutions can meet your needs. At the initial meeting, if you are planning on using their tool, you may ask for a demonstration. (Note: the companies may ask for a call prior to this meeting so they can get an overview of your organization, your needs, etc.)
  • Compile all features and put together a matrix of all features, including pricing, so you can easily make comparisons.
  • Check references. Do this early on, so any red flags can be raised early in the process.
  • Visit the finalists. Make sure you meet the person who will be your account manager. And go through a case study from beginning to end.
  • Make your decision. You will have a lot of information to make your decision. Trust your instincts.

Good luck. Let us know how you do.

Les Stern is president of L. Stern & Associates. He can be reached at

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