Customer relationship management is a vital part of any sales-oriented or marketing-oriented business. It contains at minimum important data about your customers that can be analyzed and used to further future sales and marketing efforts. For most companies, CRM is at the center of business, so a poorly implemented CRM system can spell disaster. Testing CRM software before it's implemented and again afterward is paramount.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
CRM testing is a process that ensures the software is operating correctly, that data is being saved and retrieved as it should, that reports are generated properly, that it is working properly with other software and that the data is secure.
Core CRM Testing Concepts
Ideally, CRM software should be easy to use and worry free for users. However, the components within the software and its connections to other systems can be very complex. Without testing, tuning and retesting your CRM system, you should not be surprised if the software gives you problems. It may even damage relationships with your most devoted clients.
CRM testing should be performed by trained engineers who are experienced with the software. Effective CRM testing should cover:
- Data Quality Tests: Test engineers verify that the software correctly handles data when it's entered, that it's retrievable in full and partial searches and that it's sorted correctly.
- Invalid Data Tests: Test engineers should verify that reports, graphs, tables and diagrams represent data accurately. They should also check the extract-transform-load process and the data warehousing structure.
- Software Integration Tests: Test engineers should verify that CRM software is integrated properly with other systems, like accounting software or enterprise resource planning software.
- CRM Functionality Tests: Test engineers should test workflows typically used by employees, including sales, marketing and management.
CRM Performance Tests
Engineers should test system performance during peak usage times and during continuous operations to ensure employees aren't wasting time waiting for the system to load. They should know the average loading speeds and response times during different situations and should know the maximum number of users the system can handle responsively.
Employees and managers should be able to use the software during the testing phase before the CRM system is fully adopted. This not only tests the software during typical use scenarios but it also tests the training employees received, ensuring that they are able to use the software. It also ensures that error messages are clear to employees.
CRM Security Tests
State governments and governments around the world are cracking down on poorly-stored data practices. If confidential business information isn't stored properly, you could expose your business to lawsuits. CRM software can contain a host of personal information about customers that should not be accessible outside your company, like names, addresses and email addresses. The more people who are using your CRM system, the harder it is to ensure that your system is airtight from a data security perspective.
Ideally performed by a data security expert, these tests ensure that data is protected from unauthorized access and is not vulnerable to hackers. Role-based access control validation ensures that users only have access to the data they require. Confidential information should only be accessible to staff who require it.
CRM Problems That Testing Can Expose
Testing should be done before an implementation and again afterward. Additional testing may be required periodically, and there are often some tell-tale signs that your implemented CRM could benefit from some testing. If employees aren't using the software, for example, this could be due to a slow or nonintuitive user interface, wrong customer data or wrong classifications.
Customer feedback can also point to problems with CRM, including a decline in sales, as customers don't always tell you why they're unhappy except by giving their business to someone else. Some common CRM defects that can erode client relationships include improper or missed notifications of appointments, poor recording of customer complaints, emails sent to the wrong customers for the wrong reasons and delivery delays.
If your CRM software is generating faulty reports, this should be a sign that the software needs testing. Skewed reports and faulty analytics can be caused by improperly calculated data, calculations using the wrong data or the wrong data being saved to the database. If you encounter problems after the software has been deployed, contact the software vendor to inquire about CRM testing tools or CRM testing tutorials for the product.
A published author, David Weedmark has advised businesses on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years and used to teach computer science at Algonquin College. He is currently the owner of Mad Hat Labs, a web design and media consultancy business. David has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and websites including American Express, Samsung, Re/Max and the New York Times' About.com.