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Denise CRM Software Optimization Strategies Report


V. CRM Optimization Summary

Optimizing a CRM software system to extract maximum, ongoing value requires a strategic way of thinking about the software – CRM is not just an application, it is a work environment that touches virtually every aspect of a company's interactions with its customers. As a result, optimizing the CRM system necessitates thinking holistically about the way organizations use technology to operate and improve their business.

Due to the way it permeates operations and evolves over time, CRM success is not proclaimed upon the implementation cut-over or at a single point in time. Large-scale CRM initiatives typically encompass three to four functions; for example, CRM can greatly improve companies' ability to get a 360-degree view of customer relationships. But to create this view, the support, sales and marketing divisions all need to be using the CRM system, which should also be linked to the Finance function and other systems from which it shares data.

As in the implementation phase, people, process and technology all factor prominently into continued CRM optimization phases. Related best practices include:

  • Maintaining executive sponsorship beyond implementation, creating ongoing stewardship.
  • Installing a Director of CRM, a high profile leader or manager who translates business requirements into specific enhancements the company can implement to continue improving its system and ROI.

Best-Practice Processes for Optimizing CRM

Because CRM is a "living" application, a CRM environment is never static or finished. To maximize their ROI on CRM, companies should consider the following best practices:

  • Taking a SMART approach to defining goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound. These goals can be based on classic CRM performance metrics such as head count reduction and revenue enhancement, or unique to a company's culture.
  • Showing ongoing creativity in assessing how the CRM software can continually improve business processes. Process innovation comes from all levels of the organization. By marrying strategic business impact with tactical business improvement, this CRM optimization best practice can yield the "multiplier effect," amplifying the benefits a company can receive from nominal investments.

Technology best practices include:

  • Adopting a strategic technology vision that is periodically revisited, revised and aligned as the company's business objectives change.
  • Mapping out high-impact deliverables that can be delivered quickly, make a demonstrable business impact, and build momentum – thus sustaining broad and continued support for the CRM software.
  • Ongoing execution of new capabilities should be rolled out on a steady, periodic basis, again linked to strategic business objectives.

System integration is key factor in CRM optimization; to maintain velocity and momentum, the challenge is to balance the most impactful choices and bring them to the forefront. During the optimization phase, integration typically encompasses a broad range of related business software systems, ranging from secondary enterprise systems to social CRM and social networking tools. During optimization, software integration plays a critical role in facilitating process automation. Companies should make sure that processes function well, in their manual state, before automating them in the CRM system.

Choosing the Right CRM Vendor

As final best practice, companies should choose a CRM system and implementation provider that will grow with the company's needs. The customer relationship management application should be easy to configure and deploy initially, and should grow to include new features and capabilities. Sometimes this requires special integration work or data remediation that the provider or a consulting partner should be able to deliver. In addition, companies should take care to choose a CRM system to which accepting upgrades is optional, not mandatory.

By adhering to CRM optimization best practices, companies can achieve benefits including:

  • Short term: Being able to tune the CRM application within weeks or months of implementation, to ensure that the system is properly delivering initial capabilities.
  • Mid-term: A well-optimized CRM environment allows companies to gain a better pulse on customer interactions and activities, and better visibility into how and why sales, service and marketing efforts are successful – or not.
  • Long-term: Properly optimized, the CRM system can provide enhanced insight into business success drivers, without sacrificing the efficiency of sales, support and marketing employees. Greater efficiency and superior knowledge, together, can help companies manage their business more proactively and profitably.

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A well-optimized CRM system allows a company to gain a better pulse on customer interactions and activities, and better visibility into how and why sales, service and marketing efforts are successful – or not. When properly optimized, the CRM system provides enhanced insight into business success drivers, without sacrificing the efficiency of sales, support and marketing staff. Greater efficiency and knowledge, together, can help companies manage their businesses more proactively and profitably.



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