A good customer relationship management system (CRMS) can do more than just keep your contact information up-to-date, says Simon Tomlinson, CEO of Burlington, Ont.-based BlueSun Inc.

“At best, you might have a fantastic filing cabinet with all of your client details, but if you really want to optimize your practice, a CRMS can be the electronic equivalent of the best assistant that you never had,” Tomlinson says. A CRMS can improve procedures, keep you on top of regulatory compliance, maximize sales opportunities, and manage your administration.

Here are three tips to get the most from your CRMS:

1. Keep good records
Invest time in updating all of your clients’ data into the CRMS so that you have a thorough record-keeping system for your clients and prospects, Tomlinson says.

By consolidating data, such as client contact information, preferred methods of contact, product holdings, and the dates when products are sold, you’re better equipped to decide on the next logical step with your client. A CRMS functions as a great note-taking tool, Tomlinson adds.

2. Track your action steps
Many advisors are “unconsciously competent” says Ray Adamson, chief customer officer with BlueSun Inc. Advisors can get in the habit of no longer thinking about the steps in their practices and procedures and simply doing them as a matter of routine.

“When you ask advisors, what’s your sales process or your relationship management process, often they struggle to communicate it,” adds Adamson.

As a result, it’s easy for action steps to slip through the cracks. If you’re diligently tracking your process, it’s easier to look to your CRMS for support and see how the CRMS might improve your interactions. By keeping on top of the particular steps in your process, you can be more proactive with both current and prospective clients. For example, a CRMS can help remind you when to follow-up with clients, and which topics to bring up.

3. Choose a CRMS that suits your business
Many CRMS’s are like Swiss Army knives, says Tomlinson, offering general purpose tools. Advisors can find a better-suited CRMS by looking at systems that are created based on knowledge of their industry.

Ideally, your CRMS will be custom-built for insurance and investment advisors, and equipped to configure action steps around specific data items and processes, Tomlinson adds. Generic programs are not always attuned to what an advisor does on a daily basis.