A CRM system will fail or succeed for several reasons. When it does fail it's often because several requirements were not considered. It takes a customer-centric vision across all departments and employee levels to be successful.
In this article and others to follow, we'll focus on a multitude of bright ideas helpful in the journey for more effective CRM business solutions. These have proven valuable over the years to our client CRM implementations- so feel free to use what works for your business model.
- Get support from the Top. Many times the difference between a successful CRM strategy and a huge waste of money is a leader who has a vision of a better future who motivates the rest. You need to keep a leader committed, so communicate with them regularly. Have them involved in your strategy sessions so they can share their vision as it becomes reality. Have the CRM project manager directly report to them.
- Make a business case. Before selecting a CRM system, determine how the CRM system might help share information and resources, reduce the need for data duplication, cut clutter, reduce administrative duties, and eliminate duplicated tasks. Monitor your employee behavior and performance to identify which business processes will benefit the most.
- Keep the customer in mind. Focus on the customer you provide services and products to. Determine the interactions with a prospect and customer throughout your organization. Finding out how technology can enable all of your company's touch points to accomplish your business development strategy is key.
- Merge those silos of customer knowledge. Different databases of customer service, marketing, leads, sales opportunities, customers, and so forth prevent companies from gaining that 360 degree, holistic view of the customer throughout the organization. Time and resources are wasted and helpful insights are never achieved.
- Consider people, process and technology--in the right order. Too many times the absolute wrong percentages are used. We find that 60% should be focused on people, 30% on business processes and 10% on the technology. Sorry, IT department, it's not all about you. A common reason CRM initiatives fail is that executives tend to think of CRM as an IT project. Re-align the focus percentages for CRM long term success.
- Build a CRM selection and pilot team. Before selecting your CRM software and business partner for implementation, form a CRM team with representatives from each department that have a stake in its success. Make sure your colleagues' needs and concerns are addressed. Then during a pilot phase and before full roll-out, have this CRM team work though their daily routines using the CRM. Verify they are more productive, engaged and can obtain the information they need to make smarter, informed decisions.
- Involve a CRM partner with experience. The value of an expert consulting organization that works to understand your business and has a great track record is a success requirement. You know your business, so pick one who knows their CRM system and has business experiences. Check out how we have help similar businesses.
- Benefits in various flavors. CRM is an investment because if you only consider it as a cost then you are doomed to fail. Some of the return on the investment will be short term with productivity focus: less duplication time, faster data retrieval... Some benefits will take longer, as the company shifts to a 'customer-centric' culture. Look past the dollar signs of implementation and consider things like employee efficiency, productivity, customer satisfaction and other intangible benefits.
- Emulate what works and best practices. Change will be needed and it must be rewarding. Study your top sales and service oriented people, then tailor-design your adaptable CRM so it enables your firm's best practices. Emulate those best practices company-wide.
- Get a COC. In fact get several Champions of Change. Choose an executive and a manager who's behind the implementation, understands the problems, realizes the benefits and understands the importance of the implementation from the company's side. We find that there is nothing more motivating than several people who always have a can-do attitude.
The proof is in the process of using these bright ideas. When CRM works
business owners and C-level executives make smarter decisions because they have a 360-degree view of the company's performance;
salespeople increase their proficiency and close more details;
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