We sat down with Opsis’ Gill Walker, who was good enough to share why she believes every business should take CRM very seriously.
Hi, Gill! You are the CEO of Opsis, a Sydney-based boutique CRM consultancy firm. In layman’s terms, what exactly is CRM and why is it so important?
I like to think of CRM as follows:
CRM helps the people
who are helping your customers,
know what they need to know,
when they need to know it,
to get on better with your clients,
throughout the lifetime of the association between you and them.
CRM describes the business processes by which an organisation engages with its customers. It’s more than just sales: true CRM supports an organisations’ sales (from lead generation to receipt of revenue), marketing (online and offline campaigns, directed and non-directed campaigns) and support. It should also generate metrics from all of these which allow better and stronger decision making.
You’re known as the CRM “fix it woman” – why is this?
Many CRM projects fail, up to 85%. I often get called in to help organisations who are getting less than they expected as I can often see how some small changes will deliver great returns.
Opsis specialises in Microsoft Dynamics 365. Many people will be familiar with the product but might not know how they can use it more effectively. How can Opsis help a business which might be struggling? What sort of services do you offer?
Opsis offers a range of consulting and education services. One of the challenges that both clients and implementers face is that the vendors make out that CRM (regardless of the technology selected) is easy. It is simple, when you understand the process, but it is not easy.
A successful CRM implementation requires change management. People often feel threatened by changes, but adopting the technology fully requires changes in the way many people work.
A successful CRM implementation also requires education and training throughout the project. This will take many forms including:
- Awareness raising of the project and its aims so users are not caught unawares;
- Technical training so all members of the technical team understand the potential and the options;
- End user training so that all users are confident to use the solution in the way that it was designed. This is essential if the reports and automation are to work as designed.
Why should all businesses include a CRM as part of their strategic plan?
All businesses require customers and it’s cheaper to look after existing customers than to find new customers. Looking after customers requires management of the supplier-customer relationship. CRM (done correctly) is the tool that makes this easier. However, while good CRM makes looking after customers easier, bad CRM just gets in the way. Too many organisations end up with bad CRM.
Can you tell us a little about yourself, how you got into this line of work and your background? Have you always worked in IT?
I got into this field by accident. Definitely a case of right result for wrong reasons.
My first degree was Experimental Pathology from St Andrews (I am 10% of the total population with this degree!) in Scotland. Following this, I worked in Leukaemia Research in Cardiff, Wales. During this time, I realised my strength was in educating so I decided to do a teaching qualification which was followed by a training role with an IT company, and then I set up my own training company. Desktop PCs were becoming the norm so throughout the ’90s I trained pretty much every desktop application for a large number of companies.
I love the wide range of tasks because it means every day is completely different. I also love mentoring and training. And I really enjoy seeing successes with my methods.
Then I was offered a pivotal role – leading the training on two different CRM solutions across Europe for Microsoft. This led to me being headhunted to come to Australia to join a growing consultancy and in 2004 I founded Opsis. Microsoft had recently launched Microsoft CRM, and I saw the opportunity. The rest, as they say, is history.
Perhaps it is my medical background, perhaps my love of learning and education, but I have always felt that client (which means user) results are what really matter.
What sort of challenges have you faced when it comes to starting and running your own business? How have you overcome these?
The challenges have been many and varied. Probably the biggest one is the lack of understanding in clients and prospects. This manifests itself in many ways:
- People not paying because what they get is not what they expect, even when it is exactly what is specified;
- People making a range of mistakes, including the omission of training from a project – because of the mistaken belief that it’s unnecessary – and the consequences of this are rarely accepted as such.
Another challenge is finding staff who are enough of self-starters to work in a business where I am frequently out with clients, so it has to be results driven, not hours or effort driven. I also have to do a very wide range of tasks, which is both a curse and a blessing.
What are some of the things you enjoy most about your work?
I love the wide range of tasks because it means every day is completely different. I also love mentoring and training, both clients and my own team members. And I really enjoy seeing successes with my methods, which are different from the usual – selling hours of “developers”.
You’re a proud member of Toastmasters. Can you tell us a little more about Toastmasters and why you are involved?
Toastmasters has been fantastic for me. I joined in 2012 because I saw that I needed to make the jump from training (which I’ve done forever) to speaking. Speaking is a form of education that I see will help me expand Opsis.
However, the benefits that I have gained go far beyond this:
- I have learned huge amounts about leading people and dealing with the challenges that that generates;
- I have had the opportunity and the privilege to work with the District Leadership Team to turn around the club leadership training program. I have set up a new club – Keynoters – which is a Toastmasters club specially for people who want to move into Keynote speaking;
- I have seen first-hand the benefits of “getting with the program”. As various people have said, joining a gym does not get you fit: committing to the discipline of the regime is what gets you fit. Yes, I have put a lot into Toastmasters, but I have got so much more out of it! Toastmasters is like that: if you get with “the program”, you will reap the rewards, both short term and long term;
- I get the opportunity to practice skills including marketing and speaking in a safe and supportive environment;
- I have met many wonderful people.
Learn more about how Gill Walker is changing businesses around Australia today through the power of a solid CRM: