By Denise Holland
A Customer Relationship Management Special Report
Table of Contents
- After the CRM Implementation, What's Next?
- CRM Optimization Via People and Processes
- CRM Optimization Via Software Technology Advancements
- Best Practices Spotlight: Software as a Service (SaaS)
- CRM Optimization Summary
I. After the CRM Implementation: What's Next?
As companies in all industries increasingly orient and advance their businesses around customer interactions – and the data they generate – customer relationship management (CRM) software is perhaps the application that should deliver the most value to the business. But even after a best-practice implementation, many CRM software initiatives are judged to be "failures" in the short- or long-term because:
- Users don't adopt and embrace the system
- The CRM initiative loses executive and popular support in the organization
- The CRM system delivers perceived questionable or poor value
There are a many reasons why CRM initiatives fail, but most stem from the poor calibration of three key elements: goals, processes and sponsorship. Goals need to be measurable – generally a straightforward task when implementing systems such as new accounting software or enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, but more amorphous when dealing with the relatively unstructured processes that a CRM system captures. These processes must function well manually before they're automated. Finally, management involvement is key – an executive sponsor and a project director need to be involved throughout the CRM implementation, and on an ongoing basis.
Anatomy of CRM Failure: What Goes Wrong with Customer Relationship Management Software?
In analyzing these elements, a pattern emerges – optimizing the performance of a CRM system to extract maximum value requires specificity, resourcing and diligence.
- Goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound. These goals can encompass a range of variables, such as revenue enhancement, reduction in customer churn, business process efficiencies or head count reduction. For example, a CRM system can be judged a failure if the stated goal is simply "to improve the sales process." Rather, the goal should be restated along the lines of, "Reduce lead-to-closure time on sales of $500,000 to $1 million from four months to eight weeks, within six months post implementation of the new CRM system, by using pipeline reporting to better allocate sales resources on closing winnable deals."
- Business processes must work well manually before they're automated. For example, a manual notification function that is not well tuned can send a multitude of unnecessary emails when automated, causing users to tune our or ignore the emails – and the CRM system.
- Management must maintain a leadership role in continuously reinforcing the vision and purpose. Even after deployment, an executive sponsor and a project director must remain involved and continue championing the CRM system. When sponsors or directors leave a CRM project after the system launches, it can send a strong signal within the organization that the initiative is no longer as important, or about to take a back seat to the next new project, and thus using the system is no longer an imperative.
Leveraging Moderate Investment Into Significant Return
Customer relationship management applications are molded around constant change – the daily pulse of a company's sales, marketing and service environment – therefore CRM requires more ongoing "care and feeding" than other enterprise applications. But the business benefits that can be reaped far exceed the investment.
That said, benefits from CRM deployments typically aren't immediately apparent; three, six and nine months are the standard short-term check-in points. In the short- to mid-term, a well-implemented CRM system provides a superior, real-time view of the company's interactions and activities, and better visibility into how and why a company's sales, service and marketing efforts are performing. Ultimately, over the long-term, an optimized CRM system can provide real-time visibility and actionable insight into critical success drivers, without sacrificing the efficiency of employees. This allows the overall business to be managed on a more proactive basis, and facilitates the company to become a 'learning organization' whereby it learns from its mistakes, makes data driven decisions, achieves predicted results and becomes responsive to the requests and demands of its customers and stakeholders.
In practice, "care and feeding" translates into ongoing stewardship of the CRM implementation, and a commitment to optimize the system to continuously derive new value from it. This special report examines the drivers that directly effect continued CRM success, and provides best practices that companies can adopt to receive sustained value from their CRM investment.
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An optimized CRM system provides real-time visibility and actionable insight into critical success drivers. This allows the business to be managed on a more proactive basis, and facilitates the company to become a 'learning organization' whereby it learns from its mistakes, makes data driven decisions, achieves predicted results and becomes more responsive to the requests of its customers and stakeholders.
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