Essential aspects and the best practices of CRM testing
November 12, 2019

Testing and QA

How to Test Your CRM to Improve Its Performance, Indeed?

By Olga Matuts-24 Views-No Comment

CRM market continues to grow all over the world since more and more businesses learn the importance of proper customers’ handling and the perks these systems can offer. 

But as you know, there is always a dark side of the Moon with many CRM systems. They can have bugs, be inefficient and insecure, or can be a general failure to a business. 

All CRM systems consist of a wide range of tools, elements, components, and connections, each of which can easily get out of hands and destroy the whole positive experience from a system.

Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, most CRMs are prone to failure at the least convenient time for your business’ development. This is exactly the reason this article is dedicated to CRM testing as a perfect method to prevent or identify and fix the existing system issues and to improve your day-to-day business interactions with customers. 

In case you are still not convinced of the necessity of testing adoption, consider the following situations and recollect on your company’s case.

Top problems of CRM software

It is no secret that every CRM is prone to faults and misbehaviors. Here you can see four most significant problems with which CRM testing can help a business. Read the issues and consider whether any of them applies to your company’s CRM issues.

  • Low team engagement

Inability to get around the system or find customers’ data, slow data processing, unintuitive UI, or a simple novelty of a recently introduced CRM can be the reason why the team is reluctant to use the system. 

Very often, customer support specialists need to have quick access to all customer data. Marketing and sales teams require statistics that should be available in one click. Lack of this information or inability to find it rapidly slows down work velocity and hence discourages the employees from using a CRM.

  • Negative impact on customers

Missed appointments with customers and wrongly scheduled calls, inappropriate auto-responders, unaddressed complaints, huge delays in answers, and many other factors can drive your customers away from your business. 

Every missed answer or inappropriately used answer template has a negative impact not only on the customer satisfaction rate but also on future sales. And since all of those misfortunes come from a single source, a malfunctioning CRM, you should instantly understand which element requires a check and a fix.

  • Lack of statistics

Among other features, CRMs are designed to provide businesses with essential data about their customers. The active users are classified, their purchasing or any other activity data is stored in every customer’s account to ensure that a marketing team member can get into the system and receive an extensive explanation of a failed or successful sale, for instance. However, when a CRM lacks clarity in statistics or classifies your data under unknown premises, the team can experience significant complications while preparing reports or analyzing the data for the next year’s planning. And if you cannot rely on the CRM, then why use such a system at all, right?

  • Security breaches

Whenever a CRM system leaks personal data of users or does not comply with the local, regional, or global data security acts and data protection policies, it is your company that cannot guarantee the proper level of security to customers. 

Unauthorized spreading of personal and private data or exposure of sensitive private data (phone numbers, personal connections, addresses, etc.) can literally bring down a considerable business within a second. So if a CMR leads to such significantly reputational and financial loses and you begin to notice it vividly, then it needs thorough testing of your system.

Best practices for effective CRM testing

As of now, you understand what preconditions can signal to you about the necessity of your CRM testing date. If at least one of those elements is present in your company’s daily operations, consider adopting the testing practices to improve your existing workflow and simplify the support and marketing processes inside of the business. 

Below you will find essential tips for a manager to organize a successful testing process. Mind an important remark here: you or your team leader who will be responsible for the testing of your CRM does not have to be a tech person. 

The further tips and information will focus only on the organization strategies rather than deeper IT details.

Planning is the core of success

To organize successful CRM testing after identifying some of the key negative factors that led to it, you need to allocate or hire an experienced testing team lead who would monitor and adjust the process to the new findings. The team lead will need to overview your current problems, the expected results, and then develop a test strategy and a test plan for fixing them all.

A test strategy is a high-level schema of the testing process flow. It only defines:

  • the composition and size of the team,
  • the scope of testing,
  • the time required to complete the full cycle,
  • the objectives and types of testing,
  • the tentative cost of CRM testing.

A test plan is mostly related to the process organization rather than the project overview and includes:

  • a tentative schedule,
  • the criteria for passing or failing a test scenario,
  • the composition of the team and the definition of particular roles.

Both the test strategy and test plan are called artifacts that must be reviewed and adjusted to the testing process at all times. 

QA team must be familiar with CRM testing

CRM testing is different from app testing or any other kind of software testing. These systems have their peculiarities that can be comprehended and properly evaluated only by an experienced testing engineer. 

For instance, CRM systems come in desktop and mobile formats. An inexperienced tester might go for only desktop version since this is the view that is generally used inside of the company, while most customers would work with the mobile platform due to its greater adaptation and accessibility.

As a continuation of the team’s experience, automation of testing can also be named here. Automated tests are an indispensable part of every tester’s daily routine. Still, in the case of CRM testing, it is vital owing to a large amount of business data stored in such systems. 

At the same time, a testing team lead should realize that automated tests work perfectly in long-term testing projects and might not do the trick for a one-time global system review. It is the job of a team leader to identify whether automated testing is a suitable solution for your company’s current needs and issues.

Besides that, the adaptation of the DevOps strategy in the testing for CRM systems is also a crucial element that can save you both time and money while executing the tests. While the development of new test cases from scratch might be a tough nut to crack, re-testing and regression testing methodologies coupled with the constant reviews and updates of the automated test scenarios can improve the overall testing outcomes. 

QA team lead is a “leader,” not a “dictator”

The testing team leader needs to always stay close to the testing results and the team in order to adjust the existing plan and strategy to the new findings. The ned data after testing comes in handy for quality risks management and adjustment of the process. The easiest way to stay up-to-date with the testing is to organize biweekly or monthly meetings for the team lead with the team. 

In this way, both sides will be able to communicate any issues and hence adjust the plan, or simply confirm that the CRM testing goes as planned, so the pace is fine. 

Essential aspects of CRM testing

By now, you have already learned the main problems CRM systems are prone to and the best practices for organizing a testing process in your company. Here you will read about the most important elements your CRM testing should focus on. Whilst these are global and might seem to be a bit vague, try to read the essence of each point and then apply this idea to your CRM to identify the exact steps and problems of your system for the upcoming testing.

Quality of data

Since CRM stands for the Customer Relationship Management system, you clearly understand that customer data is the most crucial element of the whole system; hence, it defines the efficiency of the system in general. For this reason, CRM testing needs to primarily focus on data quality and the storage of this data.

In the process of data quality testing, the QA team should focus on verifying whether the data is collected, stored, and reflected as designed by the system. Testers should check that all searches work correctly and that any data compilations (graphs, tables, infographics) are represented accurately. They also ensure that all raw and processed data is properly sorted and stored.

In the data quality testing, it is essential to monitor and verify data warehouse faults since they frequently appear after erroneous reports from the system. So to ensure that your reports are generated properly by your CRM, the quality assurance team needs to run data warehouse testing. 

In such tests, the following should be checked:

  • ETL process
  • data warehouse structure
  • the consistency of the warehouse columns and tables
  • data duplication

Of course, the above points are only examples of the core testing milestones, while the tests should encompass all functionalities of a warehouse. 

Functionality

Whenever a company deploys a CRM, it has particular expectations for the solution in terms of its functionality. So whenever some of the features begin to fail or miss, the functionality testing should be applied to verify the working process of the system.

As a rule, the CRM testing would be divided into several parts corresponding to the missing capabilities for particular business departments. For instance, the tests would ensure that automated communications work correctly for the support team. Another test would be related to the proper assembly of marketing and promotional offers for particular groups of customers. The sales department might be using the CRM for the direct outgoing communication with customers and VIP clients, so the QAs would ensure that the criteria for assigning a customer VIP status are correct and that these communication channels (web forms, phone calls, emails, etc.) work as designed. Besides that, functional testing should also include cross-browser testing at all times since it guarantees that the current CRM functions appropriately in any browser. 

Integration

CRM systems are frequently integrated into larger ERPs to promote cooperation among the departments and provide ease of access to the data delivered by the CRMs. Besides that, CRMs can also be joined with a financial or document management system, an email server, or the system warehouse. Without any doubt, each and every connection mentioned above can face failures and connection pitfalls, such as incomplete data transfer from one system to another or complete failure to upload data from a CRM into a financial system of a company. 

The issues may occur due to the differences in data storage and processing formats (one goes for numeric data while the other works within its own coding system). The proper tuning of both integrated systems is the key to a successful and efficient work of the CRM.

So when it comes to integration CRM testing, it checks how the data is transferred from and to the CRM and whether it is properly delivered to another system. 

Besides that, the testing team also ensures that the logs are written properly and that every data transfer operation is noted in history and can be checked later on. Whenever your business is using any custom-developed features, make sure that they are compatible with both the CRM and the receiving system in terms of data coding. Otherwise, all data transferred between the systems might be irreversibly corrupted. 

Performance

Performance CRM testing is the easiest to explain – it needs to verify that the system processes requests and answers to them fast and correctly. For instance, if an employee is requesting a list of VIP clients, the system needs to generate it instantly; in case the list is not full or took too long to load, you have a CRM performance issue. 

Of course, under normal circumstances, performance testing makes no sense since it is designed to verify how the system handles peak or continuous high-load conditions to check CRM’s maximum operating capacity. 

Should you need to learn the maximum users that can work simultaneously with the CRM or understand the timing when particular operations should be performed, you can also ask the team lead to conduct particular tests with such prerequisites. 

Security

And last but not least important aspect of CRM testing is security testing. The QA team should focus on the system vulnerability and the search for its weak spots as the primary goal. In addition, they need to conduct scanning and auditing as well as ethical hacking. 

These tests ensure that customers’ data collected and stored by your CRM: 

  • remains properly coded and safely stored on your servers, 
  • cannot be hacked from the outside, and 
  • will not be exposed to an unauthorized user. 

The latter case is called role-based access control validation which exactly tests what accesses are open to what business roles and clarifies whether they need to be altered in any way.

The bottom line

CRM systems, just like any integrated and ramified system, are susceptible to malfunctioning. The result of any CRM issue is usually an immediate negative impact on your customers. 

To ensure that your CRM is optimized and all its aspects are working as intended, you need to conduct CRM testing to confirm the efficiency or identify and fix any issues. Make sure that for such a major task, you get an experienced and professional team leader who would develop a subtle test plan and strategy and a competent quality assurance team for the successful execution of the quality risk management. Ensure that your testing covers five main aspects of CRM failures, namely data quality, functionality, integration, performance, and security.

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