I've been working in start-up environments for the past 10 years, I've noticed a few similarities when it comes to setting up and managing platforms, processes and people.
Below are a few things to consider if you're setting up a new Customer Service or CRM program:
Firstly define the problem you're trying to solve, this will prevent you from launching into purchasing a product that isn't fit for purpose. When selecting the platform, define the must haves vs nice to haves early on. It is easy to get distracted with additional features, or individuals niche asks, keeping a list of your core requirements will help you when you get to final selection.
Seek input from all departments, don't make assumptions about needs and fit. By including others at the early stages you'll gain their support and may spot opportunities or previously unknown requirements.
The type of internal technical support structure you have will lead to an in-house or outsourced solution - either the database, CRM program or both. I've implemented both complex and shoestring budget solutions, getting this right and setting expectations early on avoids plenty of headaches and costly migrations later on.
The key is streamlining for efficiency and consistency. Defining desired customer journey across all touchpoints, making sure the CRM goals (increasing conversion, reducing care contacts, improving loyalty and recommendation) are measured and met. Defining template requirements, content and copy approaches will help streamline delivery and keep brand messaging consistent.
Again, include people early on to rather requirements and input into the processes, simple things like making assumptions about how Social Customer queries are / will be handled can cause unnecessary frustration and duplication of effort.
Having understood the problem you're trying to solve, you'll be able set out the measures / KPI's required to understand if you're making consistent improvements. Being clear on what you're aiming for will keep people focused.
I've found that the 'people part' is often an after thought, it's important to define the resources needed to support the programs ongoing early on. The technical solution will influence the level of technical expertise required, then the more creative copy writing and CRM skills needed. The other stumbling block is often internal alignment, development resources, marketing, finance etc, it is important everyone understands the vision early on helps smooth the delivery.
Culture is another important factor to take not of when driving change through the business. When starting out, the culture is something that is in the DNA, instinctive to everyone that works within the business. Once you start growing, it's important to make a marker of your values, the things that are held tight by your business - and that potential new joiners are measured against these for fit. As Peter Drucker said 'Culture eats strategy for breakfast'.
It is possible to create a fully automated trigger based CRM program and get 99% of your customer queries answered by customers themselves, when building the business case consider the impact of improved response times, lower cost to serve and improved satisfaction rates will have your business - this will help you build the business case for drastically improving your customer experience and delivering competitive advantage.