The WHY and HOW of CRM and Helpdesk Integration

You may have noticed some of the "big players" in the SaaS tool market offering all-inclusive platforms to try to host CRM, helpdesk, marketing and more all inside of their single platform (for example, HubSpot just announced their Customer Service Hub to round out their CRM and Marketing offering).

But, what if the tools that work best for your business are not offered by the same vendor? You're in good company here - most businesses are using multiple tools to suit their various needs. In this case, you'll need to take steps to integrate your separate SaaS tools by other means.

First, let's talk vocabulary.

When we say "integrating" or "integration" we think its important to define this clearly. For our purposes, integration means the flow of specific data (records, fields, etc.) from your primary database into a second database, so that the specific data you need is where you need it. It is NOT that the two databases are the same.

This is important to highlight, because often we come across requests from clients who wish to "sync", "connect" or "integrate" their databases, but cannot explain what they need where or why they need it. When we walk you through how to setup and successfully integrate two databases, it is to ensure that the integration is solving the specific job you need to accomplish. This way you actually get what you need, where you need it - and what you don't get is a mess of irrelevant data, creating a monster you can't control.


Now, let's take a real-world example

Your sales team has a pipeline of deals they manage, and some of these potential clients have submitted a ticket to your support team. You want, in an ideal world, for your sales and support teams to share some of the critical data in both your CRM and Helpdesk tools, like:

  • how many tickets a client has opened
  • the time it takes to resolve the client's ticket
  • the size of the client's pending deal/sale
  • the expected close date of the deal

Let's stop and remind ourselves WHY this deserves our attention

With integration of the right data in the right place, you'll see business benefits gained, such as:

  • reviewing ticket history can shed light on how support (either poor or great!) can affect sales, as well as ongoing client relationships (did you lose the sale because they had 5 open tickets, with no resolution? did the sales process take 2 weeks longer, because it took over a week to answer their ticket?)
  • visibility into important client details, like subscription level or lifecycle stage, can help support teams offer more personalized support, and triage tickets accurately (read: better satisfaction ratings!)
  • instant access to critical information (remember, critical, not all) equates to less time wasted collecting that data from various sources (like jumping between databases, or worse - bugging staff to get crucial context)

Next, let's review HOW we get it done

It may seem daunting. You may think you've survived this long without it, so why bother? Maybe your database is less than perfect (trust us, everyone's is), and you don't want to make things worse. We get it. Keep in mind you are only integrating specific data that will help your sales and support teams - you can leave the rest alone. It really boils down to these 3 components you need to setup:

  1. Contact creation
    Every new contact created in your helpdesk should be synced to your CRM. After all, every person you talk to is a potential client! To do this, you can setup the integration to run nightly so that any new contact created in the last 24 hours in your helpdesk database is reflected in your CRM. Be sure to also set up the deduplication criteria so that this integration is checking against existing CRM contacts to only create those that are truly new. The first time you deploy the integration will likely take the longest, as it syncs all historical data to catch you up to current day (you may think about setting a time filter, if your helpdesk is 10 years old and you only want contacts created in the last 6 months, for example).
  2. Field updates
    First, create a thoughtful, succinct list of the client fields from your CRM that you would want to sync into your heldpesk. You want these to be specific, relevant fields that will actually help your support team accurately triage and respond to client requests (for example: subscription level, lifecycle stage, estimated closed date). The integration should be configured to automatically update the helpdesk record if those fields are updated in CRM (i.e. lifecycle stage changes from lead to customer).
  3. Ticket history sync
    Your integration should sync every client's ticket history from your helpdesk into your CRM. This way, sales can have important, real-time client history for context on hand anytime without changing tools.

And before you raise your eyebrows and suggest this list is too short - take a moment to pause!


Remember to keep focused on the goal

We suggest that you start here, and if you find a critical element is missing, you can evaluate further. Allow your teams to truly see the benefit if the integration, and provide educated feedback on what does or doesn't work to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish through this. And before you start adding to the list of integrations you think you need, stop and do a quick check. Does the integration:

  • Solve an actual job or goal?
    For example, you might think about syncing all records between both databases But if every contact from your CRM was in your helpdesk, what job does this help your support team accomplish?
  • Create more headache than its worth?
    For example, you may think it can increase your efficiency even more if you can also edit the data in the "secondary" system (i.e. editing deal info in your helpdesk; or editing a help request in the CRM). It may seem helpful that whichever team is there and has something to update, they can do it. BUT, the point of the integration is that you can consume critical data in two places because it helps improve visibility and efficiency - NOT that data entry should be done by two different teams for the same set of data. In our experience, it's advisable to keep the data entry and management within the purview of who works with it as part of their job role. So, tickets are only managed and updated by support teams; and deals and client data is only updated by the sales team. This keeps your data integrity in check, your teams' roles clearly defined, and will ensure there is no mismanagement (even if done with the best intent) of critical client data.


We encourage you to give it a try, and share your experiences with each other! Did you notice any tangible results? Did you need to integrate other components not listed above? Let us know what you think. And if you're looking for a tool that can help you setup your CRM/helpdesk integration, you can give Import2 Wizard a try. It's a few quick steps, and no technical know-how is needed. It's a great way to get started on the journey to better use of your business data.