The top reason that CRM technology initiatives fail is the misunderstanding that CRM is a technology.
Customer Relationship Management is not about technology, despite what CRM software providers might say. CRM is a business strategy comparable with product strategy (what you sell) and marketing strategy (how you go to market) and defines how your organisation will engage with customers.
- CRM is about customers and their experience.
- CRM is about the strategies and processes put in place to provide the desired customer experience.
- CRM is about ensuring that the desired processes are followed, often described as “user adoption”
To implement a successful CRM initiative requires hard decisions to be made. This is why Executive Commitment is often stated as the most important success factor.
Executive Commitment not just executive support.
CRM strategy needs to be developed with executive commitment, not just executive support. The organisation will need top leadership to be actively involved in making sometimes difficult decisions and communicating the reasons for these changes through the organisation.
How do you provide Executive Commitment?
Focus on the customer’s experience and make decisions about how you want your customers to engage with you.
- If your current organisational structure means that a customer needs to talk to 5 different departments to get things done, then change your organisational structure.
- If a process is designed to make your staff’s job easier at the expense of the customer’s experience, then change the process.
- If you have front-line staff that don’t provide a good experience for the customer, then change your staff.
These are examples of the hard decisions that cannot be made by a project manager and business analyst. You can’t delegate or contract out these decisions, and simply installing a bit of new software won’t address the important issues.
What about CRM Software?
The purpose of CRM software is to help you implement customer-centric strategies in a cost-effective manner. CRM software can provide important information to both management and frontline staff, allowing them to be more effective. CRM software can also automate workflows that would otherwise require costly manual effort.
If nothing else, make sure that your organisation’s top leadership are involved in designing the ideal customer experience and the plan for delivering the changes required to deliver it. Keep the executive informed or progress, and get them involved when decisions need to be made that cannot be made a the project level.
The technology piece will then be easy (by comparison).