Businesses continuously seek ways to better serve their customers while maximizing resource productivity and financial results. Deploying a CRM (customer relationship management) strategy strengthens customer relationships, improves efficiency, and increases profitability. But is it right for you?

Signs that your company needs CRM

Your company may have been well served by using Excel spreadsheets, Outlook, and manual processes but these are simply tools that helped your team get the job done. As your company grows, these tools only contribute to diminishing returns on the team’s work. Do these issues exist in your company?

  1. Valuable information is scattered.
    It is difficult to take appropriate actions in a timely manner if customer data is spread across multiple systems and written on post-it notes at individual workstations. Your company’s ability to satisfy customer needs and increase sales is weakened, putting you at a disadvantage with the competition.
  2. Reporting is labor intensive.
    If reports are compiled manually and only provide high level insights, your company is lacking the business intelligence it needs to track performance and take corrective action when it’s needed.
  3. Opportunities are lost.
    Inability to capture essential customer details from sales calls or track customer interactions puts your company at risk. You may not learn what issues or opportunities arise until it’s too late and the customer is lost. Furthermore, when sales people leave your company, continuity is difficult because they leave with precious customer information.
  4. Mobility is a problem.
    If reps on the road cannot easily access current customer information they may appear less than competent in front of customers. An inability to quickly report key details from customer meetings and sales calls can result in decisions based on incomplete data that can tarnish your company’s image. The high cost of inefficiency, loss of productivity, and harmful impact on your brand will negatively affect your bottom line.
  5. All customers are treated equally.
    If your company is unable to target the most profitable customers with segment-specific strategies to build loyalty, your results may be far from optimal.

Do I really want CRM?

With an increasing number of customers, sales opportunities, and employees you’ve decided that you probably need a CRM strategy. But, do you really want it? The benefits of CRM are numerous and are worth considering. However, you need to be prepared to do what it takes to make CRM work for you. A number of studies show that CRM deployments only have a 20% to 40% success rate – not very compelling. So before taking the next step, consider the factors that create CRM success to ensure you and your team are committed to realizing its full potential. These success factors apply equally to small, medium, or large companies in varying degrees.

CRM Success Factors:

  1. Sponsorship
    Sponsorship from the top for this important venture is vital for CRM to achieve long-term ROI. Everyone in the organization has to understand how CRM will help to better serve customers, increase productivity, and achieve financial goals. Buy-in is imperative, but not after the fact. People have to be included in the decision-making process; they want to feel that their contribution to the process matters.
  2. Vision
    Define how CRM will support the company’s vision. Define how the customer is central to the company’s vision and the role CRM plays in keeping the spotlight on the customer. To realize the full potential of CRM, it must be woven into the organization’s culture in service to the customer. And that begins with a clear, inspiring vision.
  3. Strategy
    Articulate strategies that will bring the vision to life. Understand what it is you want to accomplish and develop strategies by customer segment to differentiate customer value, needs, and preferences. CRM is integral to achieving customer-segment strategies; capture, track, and analyze customer data to define ways to engage and serve each customer.
  4. Objectives
    What are your business objectives and how does each department, team, and individual contribute to goal achievement? What obstacles prevent them from being successful? Companies that review business objectives and optimize processes in preparation for CRM deployment will achieve the greatest results. Otherwise what is the point of using technology to reproduce existing inefficiencies and get the same results?
  5. Alignment
    Aligning the organization around the vision, strategies, and business objectives requires careful consideration of the impact these will have on key elements. How should the organization be structured to best support strategies? What management systems will be needed to achieve business objectives? Which business processes will foster collaboration and cross-functional interactions? Will new competencies need to be acquired?
  6. Enablers
    CRM technology enables the organization structure, management systems, and business processes to successfully align the organization around its strategies.
  7. Roadmap
    Shifting your organization to CRM is not a one-time event. It is a process that shifts your entire organization to focusing on the customer, and providing business intelligence that can affect how you run your company to achieve the desired results. It can’t all be done at once so prioritize the most important elements and design the roadmap that will take your organization where it needs to go, one step at a time. Above all, avoid the temptation of taking short-cuts that in the long-run can cost you more in terms of poor results, reduced user adoption, lost credibility, and lack of ROI.
  8. Metrics
    Identify the metrics and set KPI that will measure the success of your CRM strategy. Measure performance on a regular basis to ensure the plan is on track. This vigilance can alert you to disruptions in the market, in your competitive environment, or internally that may require changes to the strategy.

The CRM journey can take your organization to new heights. If your company has deployed CRM but fails to achieve ROI, it is not too late to engage in the process and turn the situation around. Whether you are new to CRM or revisiting your CRM strategy, committing to CRM success factors can create a customer-focused culture that strengthens relationships, builds loyalty, and develops a strong corporate brand. Are you ready?

Paola Graziani
Principal Consultant
Altimum IMS