Welcome to CS.
Some questions for you:
Is the coffee fresh?
EG: Was it roasted less than a couple of weeks ago. Stale beans will put you on the road to failure right away.
Are you grinding just prior to making the coffee? Once you grind, beans are best used within a few minutes.
Is the grinder set fine enough? Watery coffee can also be indicative of the grind being too coarse.
A custom tamper is a good idea (but see how things go with the other variables first), pods are NOT a good idea.
Any idea what size the coffee basket is?
Do you know if it is pressurised? EG Does it have a lot of little holes across the whole bottom of the basket, or just a few? Just a few means pressurised and thats another possible issue for crema.