“Get Real” with your CRM solution

A couple years back, Gartner Group released a CRM research study that predicted “through 2006, more than 50 percent of all CRM implementations will be viewed as failures from a customer’s point of view….”

Sad to say but things are not much better today! Retaining and enhancing customer relationships remains a top 5 business issue on the Gartner CIO Agenda. It is critical, especially in today’s economy, that companies continue to invest in managing its most valuable asset, its customers. According to AMR Research, companies are investing in CRM to the tune of $14 billion dollars a year.

Is my CRM Solution Successful?

So, you have made your investment and implemented your CRM tool. Are you part of the 35% of successful deployments, or sadly the 65% that have fallen short?

If there is any doubt where your company falls, consider the following questions…

  • Are you still limited in your ability to grow your top tier accounts?
  • Are your national accounts meeting their revenue commitments?
  • Are your people using Excel and Outlook to fill gaps that your CRM tool is not meeting?
  • Can you track and measure your sales team performance? Are they closing activities and, more importantly, deals?
  • Can you assess the effectiveness of your marketing spend and campaigns? A CRM worth its salt should have great marketing capability. Your CRM should seamlessly integrate with a commercial grade marketing vendor, like email marketers and direct mail vendors. These vendors provide essential functionality including email tracking and spam prevention, integrate MS Word mail merge and direct marketing capabilities, and campaign budget management.  The bad news is that CRM solutions rarely offer this level of marketing functionality out of the box.
  • Is your CRM system a data silo? Is your customer data not feeding other enterprise tools, or are you not interfacing with transaction data to measure projected revenue to actual revenue?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, your implementation may be heading in the wrong direction. Now that you realize the hard reality, how did you right the ship?

  • Perhaps you drank the ASP/SaaS model kool-aide. The cloud is a great and cost effective solution…however, “Success not Software” does not mean “No Risk”. While the promise of speed to market with limited CapEx layout is attractive to everyone, the shortcuts you take early on in your deployment will cost you double down the road.  I have spoken with many people that have struggled to scale their CRM solution to meet the changing needs of their business and is cost prohibitive to deploy across the enterprise.
  • You assumed that CRM success comes out of the box. CRM software is usually designed for many types of business. To make the software work for you, no matter what the vendor tells you, there will be configuration and some customization to meet the unique needs of your industry. CRM packages are designed to meet the needs of the largest common denominator. A Product screen for an insurance company will not look like the Product screen for a hospitality company.
  • You did not focus on critical factors that drive user adoption such as, familiar interface, standardized processes, organizational readiness, change management, or ease of use.

Get on the Road to Recovery

Determining that your CRM implementation has problems may be instant or it may materialize over time. Regardless, you must analyze the situation and determine your rescue strategy. So, what can you do now?

Treat your CRM system as the critical Enterprise solution that it is. You would not implement a new accounting system without first understanding accounting practices across the organization, identifying integration points, and dealing with change management. It is important to note that the success factors for CRM implementations rest largely outside the scope of the software itself. To establish the best implementation strategy, you must

  • Identify the Organizational impact early on and build change management strategy and tools accordingly.
  • Get executive buy-on on the new strategy and include stakeholders from across the organization (Marketing, Sales, Finance, Customer Service, IT)
  • Pay attention to data quality, specifically data governance practices and procedures. There is nothing more detrimental to user adoption than bad data.
  • Standardize AND SUPPORT your business processes across the enterprise
  • Highlight benefits to sales team often (i.e. up-sell, cross-sell, single system, clean data, 360° view of the customer)
  • Understand your industry-specific CRM needs and ensure your can configure screens and workflows to match
  • Address the complexities of integrating into your enterprise architecture with multiple legacy data silos and even offline processes
  • Provide the right customer intelligence with dashboards and robust reporting to the right people, at the right time, to effect change

Carefully consider the points above and invest in CRM tool experience when designing and implementing your solution. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to learn a new tool on the job! There are many functions and features available within the package, and outside through the open source collaborative environment. Bending your business processes to meet your software will affect user adoption.

Look for a CRM partner with a broad and proven resume of integration and enterprise information system implementations. If you treat your CRM implementation like the critical enterprise application it is, you are more likely to be part of the 35% of CRM implementations that succeed!

3 thoughts on ““Get Real” with your CRM solution

  1. Pingback: Pressure for All-in-one Hospitality CRM is Building, But None Meet the Demand…Yet « Edgewater Technology Weblog

  2. Pingback: Keeping the Black Swan at Bay « Edgewater Technology Weblog

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