CRM Customization Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Most CRM systems boast “easy point-and-click” and “no-code” customizations. This feature-rich software provides businesses with a versatile tool to streamline their business processes.

However, administrative users with no formal training are empowered to easily customize their organization’s CRM system, which can save time and money compared to the programming that may have been required with legacy systems.

CRM Customization Mistakes

However, with power comes responsibility. Taking the wrong approach to even basic CRM customizations can become very costly in the long run if improper customizations and resulting data are later transformed into a more usable or more easily reportable format.

Here are some common CRM customization mistakes and how to avoid them.

1. Creating too many custom fields

It’s best if there’s some level of team consensus on whether to create a new custom field, what the data type of the new field should be, and which loosely or strictly enforced business rules should be included with the new field.

Adding new fields without forethought or consensus can result in unused or redundant fields.

2. Adding a sea of checkboxes

A specific example of an excessive number of custom fields involves screens with dozens of checkboxes.

CRM Checkboxes

Instead of creating a lot of boxes for users to check, it’s better from a data management and reporting perspective to create a related, custom entity or object — and then allow users to select the appropriate values.

3. Requiring data entry in too many fields

The number of required fields in each entity or object should be kept to a bare minimum. Too many required fields can end up discouraging adoption if users continually encounter situations in which they have not been able to collect all the information for which non-null values are technically enforced while creating a new record.

4. Using picklists instead of lookups

Instead of creating a pick list with dozens of drop-down values, creating a lookup on a custom entity or object is normally better. For a large number of potential values, a lookup allows for searching. A lookup field also allows for an inverse view from the selected value back to all related records.

CRM Lookup Field

5. Not leveraging dependent pick lists

Often, the values in one pick list depend on the values in another.  Users are guided to proper data entry by controlling which values appear in a pick list based on the value selected in another list.

6. Not setting up field validation rules

Let’s say your company only sells in the United States and Canada. There’s a well-defined set of two-character abbreviations for these two countries for states, territories, and provinces.

With validation rules, it’s easy to ensure that only valid two character values are entered and that you don’t end up with CA, Calif, and California all referencing the same state.

7. Creating groupings of flat fields

Unlike with a flat-file contact manager, in a relational CRM database, there should never be a need to create redundant sets of custom fields such as for “Property #1”, “Property #2”, etc.

Redundant Custom CRM Fields

In this example, it’s much better for each Property to be its own separate record.

8. Not displaying important parent fields in a child table

CRM applications allow for easily displaying parent fields in a record view. An administrator can easily display selected parent record fields within a record to economize on upstream navigation to view important parent record data.

9. Not segmenting customizations by user roles

If your organization has users within different departments who need to access the same CRM records but need to see custom fields specific only to their role, you can segment record views by type of record and/or by user.

By avoiding CRM customization mistakes, your organization can save money and have a more highly adopted CRM system.

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