By Denise Holland
A Customer Relationship Management Special Report
Table of Contents
- Implementing For Sustained Value: What All Companies Need to Know
- People and Process: Best Practice Principles
- Technology Best Practices: Strategy and Execution
- Best Practices Spotlight: Software as a Service
- CRM Implementation Report Summary
Implementing For Sustained Value: What All Companies Need to Know
Customer relationship management (CRM) systems are unlike most other enterprise applications in that the software itself, once implemented, will do little to improve a company's business. Years of vendor hype have perpetuated a near-magical aura around CRM; and many companies implicitly believe that the application itself can effect better sales or service.
While having a high-performance, well-implemented CRM system is essential for ultimate success, it's the use of the CRM application that leads to business improvement. Thus, while companies always start their CRM implementations with the best intentions, implicitly high expectations often aren't balanced with a realistic timeline and plan to permeate a customer centric company culture throughout the organization and gain the backing of key user communities such as Sales, Marketing and Customer Support.
User Adoption Directly Impacts Business Benefit
The inextricable link between customer relationship management software usage and benefit cannot be overemphasized in discussing best practices for CRM implementation; simply put, the benefits of integrated CRM systems can plummet to nearly zero if CRM software is not uniformly and widely embraced by the customer facing user communities.
For example, if a company hasn't aligned or adapted its sales or service goals and processes to directly correlate with the software implementation, unclear or inconsistent software utilization can then disincent use of the system and result in a negative spiral of unrealized benefits, instead of an incentive to use the new system as intended. Moreover, most organizations experience a productivity trough of 60 to 90 days after the CRM system goes live. It takes this long for users to become knowledgeable and comfortable using the application. During this period, negative user feedback can range from modest complaints to departmental uprisings, unless the company has carefully considered how to adjust users' goals and performance measures to incent them to use the CRM application.
As a result, many mid-market companies and large enterprises are today in the process of choosing a second CRM system, due to shortfalls in their first.
At the most fundamental level, any CRM implementation should be a balanced effort that considers equally the people, process and technology involved. This CRM special report discusses the best practices that all companies can employ in implementing a CRM software system, at both strategic and tactical levels, to address people/change management and technology issues.
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