Reasons for outsourcing your CRM and data management services

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and data management are now widely understood to be a crucial strategic tool for sport and leisure organisations. Fans and customers expect an improved personalised experience and want their clubs to better understood them and communicate with them in a more insightful way. In sport, this can only lead to increased value for supporters and their clubs meaning longer term relationships and the associated increased revenues and profit. In leisure and attractions, customers are happy to continue their personalised experience with the brand outside of the venue providing it is relevant and targeted.

Now that the debate has shifted from ‘Is using CRM and data the right approach for us?’ to ‘what’s the best way for us to implement a data-driven approach to CRM?’ it is important to understand the various options available. In this paper we will be considering the option that sports and leisure organisations have to outsource aspects of CRM and data management to a specialist agency partner and the many potential benefits of this approach.

Developing and implementing a CRM and data strategy can be complex. There are many systems options, potential lack of expert resource and many common pitfalls which can hinder success.

The strategic option of outsourcing CRM and data management has been a trend being used by many consumer brands and is now happening more frequently in sport and leisure. It has become a serious option for sport and leisure organisations considering moving forward quickly with their CRM strategy or who want to get more from their customer data. Many experts believe that Tesco have been the leaders in CRM over the past 20 years and aspects of their CRM, loyalty and data management were outsourced to specialist agencies, demonstrating the viability of this option.

Here are the 8 reasons why you should consider outsourcing your CRM and data management:

1. CRM and data requires specialist expertise

Outsourcing any functional area, which requires a specialism and depth of expertise that the organisation would find difficult to replicate, has its merits. We strongly believe that CRM and data falls into that category. As we know, as well as the systems selection and implementation, CRM also requires organisational design, data management, data analysis, segmentation, profiling, marketing planning, campaign management, email marketing, customer surveys and staff training! CRM and data management has many specialist facets that require consideration and as CRM and the use of data continues to adapt and change, using experts means you know you can rely on the latest thinking and ensure maximum returns.

2. De-risk your systems implementation

Choosing CRM/data management systems is a minefield. There are a plethora of many suppliers telling you that they have the system you need and others who will offer to build something from scratch. There are so many different aspects of CRM that it has become a risky, time consuming and complex decision. The list of possible required functions from a CRM system is huge and getting it wrong can be very costly in terms of financial spend and disruption to the business. It can also leave your staff scarred from their experience meaning future changes become even more difficult.

Outsourcing CRM often means that you get the systems you need as part of the service. The agency has already gone through the process of systems selection which you then get the benefit of and you can treat as a ‘try before you buy’ if you still wish to invest in the future.

3. An extension to your marketing team

Typically, commercial and marketing teams may include someone who has some accountability for CRM and data but with responsibilities for much more especially at busy times during the season.

For example, creating data-driven email campaigns may end up being weekly e-blasts as you simply don’t have the time to use your data more effectively despite best intentions.

A CRM agency can become an extension to you team which means that when those typical peaks and troughs arise you have a committed people ‘on the bench’ waiting to help out.

Trying to recruit all of the required skills can often be prohibitive when budgets are tight so buying into an agency that has all of the required skills meaning you can access those skills and when they are needed can be a much more efficient and effective use of budget than recruitment.

4. Keeping up with the latest thinking – so you don’t have to

Sometimes you may be reinventing the wheel with your CRM efforts. An agency will bring a fresh perspective to the table and ensure you can keep up with best practice more easily…from both inside and outside sport.

For example, CRM agencies will be up-to-date on email marketing best practice and how it can potentially work best for your club. It is their job after all and they do this for a living. Why not let the experts worry about the finer details?

They will also work with a number of other clients and therefore will have tried and tested methodologies to help you hit the ground running and avoid the many potential pitfalls. In essence the CRM and data agency provides experience and expertise that can prove invaluable in delivering ROI more quickly.

5. Upskill your own staff

You may worry that by outsourcing that you won’t see any internal investment in your staff or expertise in CRM and data management.

In reality, it is the complete opposite. Most CRM agencies will offer training as part of the package and may also even take a member of your staff under their wing and train them up to become your in-house expert.

Agencies don’t have to be forever, don’t be put off by the fear of long term reliance. Instead, you should focus on the immediate benefits and time/cost savings outsourcing to the experts can achieve and then if you want to do it yourselves later you will be well on the road to success.

6. Greater measurability, improved results

If you choose a partner that is dedicated to your data and CRM activity, they will make sure that they measure their results in order to demonstrate their value. After all, it is their business and their reputation relies upon this. They will implement measures and reports to prove ROI and this measurement also leads to a greater likelihood of improved results as they will want to report good news! When you pay an agency for their services you can hold them to account to deliver and it is in their interest to make sure they do.

7. Flexibility of service

A full service CRM and data agency offers a wide range of services with the flexibility of allowing clients to pick and choose the relevant package for them. For example, this can include systems provision, data warehouse, data analysis, segmentation, e-campaign management and telemarketing. Also, it is easy to switch on extra services in peak times as and when required meaning you don’t have the headache of recruiting extra staff just to manage the peaks in workload (e.g. season ticket or membership campaigns).

8. You’re in control

One of the arguments against outsourcing is the perceived loss of control of what is a key function. Actually, we believe it’s the opposite. The CRM agency acts as an extension to your team and if it’s your team then that means you are the boss! Let the agency manage the planning, the recommendations and the execution but only once you have approved it. This gives you greater control with an agency offering extra accountability. Remember they work for you and he agency will only want to deliver the plan that you approve, therefore your views count for much more and are more likely to be implemented.

Summary

The results available from CRM and data techniques can be significant for sport and leisure organisations looking to build better relationships with their fans and customers. However, a lack of resources (people, specialist skills and systems) can often mean that the rewards from this approach are never found. Using a CRM/Data agency can be an extremely attractive option available to organisations with enough flexibility to allow a full or partial outsource depending on specific requirements. It can lead to significantly greater results due to the extra focus and specialist expertise available whilst at the same time reducing the risks of going it alone. If it’s the approach used successfully by Tesco then it’s certainly worthy of consideration by sports clubs and organisations.

Our CRM services

We are a specialist sports CRM and data agency based in the UK, passionate about helping sport and leisure companies build improved relationships with their fans and customers we strongly believe that a data-driven, insight-led approach (e.g. CRM) is the best way to do this.

Our talented team has significant experience in working with sport and leisure organisations, both client and agency side, are driven by passion and a desire to build industry-leading insight-led services for our clients.

We utilise the Green 4 Microsoft Dynamics CRM suite of customer systems offering a world class technology platform and the only real ‘closed loop’ approach to fan marketing in sport.

To find out more about our services, please don't hesitate to get in touch or call us on 01455 377143.

Resources, Our Thoughts