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The Magazine For Digital Leaders

How the Right CRM Team Can Help you Build Customer Relationships at Scale with Anna Ala-Nissilä, EasyPark Group’s CRM Project Lead

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Key Takeaways

●  CRM is linked to everything happening within the business. It has to be reflected in the team structure and planning to build a deep connection between your brand and the customers.

●  As we are already a function with several interdependencies we need to build operations that allow us to stay agile and avoid adding more dependencies on delivering output. This can be done by placing a broad range of various competencies in the team.

●  CRM is a team exercise. There is usually no one who has the full picture. You need to be able to listen, look at the data, and experiment.

Anna’s career development and main challenges

As a CRM Project Lead at EasyPark Group, I see my role sitting somewhere in between Marketing and Technology while helping my team to bridge the gap. I’ve been finding my path in the Marketing world while in recent years also working very closely with the engineering teams. I’ve come to realize that engineering and marketing don’t necessarily always share the same language and I really enjoy working to bring the two teams closer together.

Most of my career in marketing has been at EasyPark – more than 6 years. I started as a Marketing responsible for the Finnish market, doing a bit of everything. After a couple of years I joined the Group Marketing Team and became a Marketing Manager for our owned channels.

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Source: www.easyparkgroup.com

This included CRM, App Store Optimization (ASO), and managing Apple search ads. Towards the end of 2019, it was clear that we needed more resources on CRM. That’s when I shifted my focus fully on the work within CRM.

CRM was a clear decision for me because it’s complex, challenging, and fascinating. There is always more to learn. We have started to build the CRM operations from scratch and one of the first steps there has been to work out how we can collaborate more closely, not just with the product and IT teams but with all the stakeholders in our business. Our CRM team reports to the CMO but we have regular meetings with the IT team to make sure we are aligned.

Introducing EasyPark

EasyPark is a technology company focused on mobile parking. The most known part of the business is the consumer facing app that you can use to find and pay for parking and electric vehicle charging.

The company’s vision is to make cities more livable. This includes providing services to help cities digitalize and to be a partner in this journey towards building a smarter and more sustainable city.

EasyPark has been growing fast. I joined the company when we were around 100 employees. With the recent acquisition of the PARK NOW group, we are now three times bigger. We are really in a scale-up phase going up from a startup and building out our team and processes. Still, we have the opportunity to shape how everything will look like but we are committed to growth.

Building relationships at scale

CRM at its core is about building relationships with customers at scale. To do this we need to get to know our customers and cater to their individual needs.

CRM is linked to everything happening within the business. It has to be reflected in the team structure and ways of working as we look to build a deep connection between our brand and our customers. Whatever the touchpoint for the customer may be, it always needs to be recognizable as EasyPark. To do this you need to combine creativity with technology and data.

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Source: www.easyparkgroup.com

While we are building towards that vision, our approach is to start mapping out which are the areas where we can have the biggest impact. Where are the biggest pain points for the customer and where do we have the opportunities to support their journey.

It can be tricky to find the right people to join a CRM team as there’s a need for a combination of creativity, analytics and tech-savviness – all in the same person.

We started breaking down each role into the key competencies to find which areas were holding us back. How we concluded this was that we need specialists with different skill sets to really make sure we cover all the needed competences properly. It was also important to place those competences in the team rather than relying on getting that from other functions.

As we are already a function with several interdependencies, we need to build operations that allow us to stay agile and avoid adding more dependencies on delivering output.

Building the team, one interview at a time

We’ve been doing a lot of work searching for people who have not only the skills but are also a great cultural fit for EasyPark. Although experience and what the candidate has done in the past is important, what I also focus on is finding people who are customer-centric.

Another one of the key skills I look for is the ability to collaborate with different people as CRM is a team exercise. There is usually no one who has the full picture. You need to be able to listen, look at the data, and experiment. 

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Source: www.easyparkgroup.com

Finding the right CRM platform

Last year we deployed Braze for our CRM needs. At times the implementation was challenging as we were lacking dedicated development resources at that time. We needed to coordinate between several development teams and make sure we had time allocated in their sprints.

Braze has been great for us in many ways, and one of my favorite things have been the many capabilities such as tagging, frequency capping and setting priorities that allow you to manage the customer journey. It has been incredible to build not just basic messages but entire dynamic and personalized experiences, so the messaging doesn’t have to look the same for each user.

When building a CRM team, I try to focus on people’s ideas on what they think a CRM should perform and be handled like. It’s about getting a sense of their vision for the future.

Anna Ala-Nissilä, CRM Project Lead, EasyPark Group

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