5 Principles of CRM Success: The Essential Guide

Posted on Wed, Jun 01, 2011

CRM projects are more often plagued with organizational challenges than they are with technical issues. Here are 5 steps to addressing the organizational issues that arise from implementing technologies that improve your relationships with customers. When you are sitting in the driver's seat, it is helpful to remember these 5 things.

1) Establish a sensible vision of the future. The implementation of CRM in your organization needs to be viewed as a culture-change initiative. Resistance to the CRM culture change means catastrophe. Quantify the value that the CRM project will bring to the organization. Being able to say "reducing the time that it takes for us to respond to a customer request of information by 30% will reduce customer defection by $50,000 per quarter" or "standardizing our sales process will increase the time sales reps can spend on prospecting by 1200 hours next year" goes a very long way to increasing adoption, because everyone's eyes are on the prize, and when the going gets tough you will have this vision to hold yourself accountable for the results. When someone asks "why do I have to do this?" you can say, "Because we are going to save $200,000 next year. Aren't you interested in helping us add $200,000 to our bottom line?"

2) Management Team Leads the way. An attitude needs to be developed in the management group that supports the initiative from the top. What needs to be reinforced is that usage of the system is not voluntary. When management presents a report to the team during a staff meeting that is clearly not based on the data the users have added to CRM, the users get discouraged. They perceive that if the system is of no use to our managers, then it is not critical to our success. Activity, sales forecast, and account reports should be derived from the info that you are having your users enter into the system. The managers should be using reports from the system during internal meetings and they should be referring to data inside the system during their conversations with teammates. Basically they need to lead the way with CRM culture. Learn and practice this phrase: "If it is not in CRM, it does not exist!"

3) CRM Requires Customer Analysis. CRM is defined as focusing on "The Customer." However, many CRM projects are focused on organizational improvements and not actually improving the customer's experience. Developing strategies that focus around the customer is more difficult than one would actually think. It is easy to look at the team of people you have and find operational efficiencies that you think would serve the customer, but this is rarely the case. Customer analysis requires actually talking to the customer and consolidating their feedback and finding ways to internalize what they perceive as valuable, into your operation. When the value perception is met or exceeded, your bottom line will see the results. A good example has been the recent trend toward 24 hour retailer operations. Keeping the doors open another 2 hours a day does have some expense and may not seem like the action of an operationally-efficient organization. Once customers are able to take advantage of the expanded hours, watch the effect on overall sales and customer loyalty.

4) Get the Big Picture. Improving the customer's perception of value is done by understanding the customer's entire experience, and their perception of value at each touchpoint. Get a white board and map out the entire customer lifecycle and where they experience your organization's touch. It is sometimes amazing what the customer actually has to go through to do business with you. Once you have built your TouchPoint Map, share it with some of your trusted customers. They will help you decide which touchpoints are valuable and which ones are destructive. If the customer does not value that touchpoint, you better figure out why you are doing that or get rid of it altogether.

5) Get a Road Map. What is the plan? Sounds simple, but most project teams fail to see the big picture. They are focusing on the next 90 days of work, pleasing you by getting it done on budget and on time. But realize that improving your customer relationships is not a destination — it is a journey. As customer needs change, so should your CRM strategic map. A good way to keep the team engaged is by keeping the ideas flowing. Build a list of "What to do next" and keep revisiting it every meeting. Keep track of all your ideas, so you can continue generating a plan for what you are going to do in 6 months, 1 year, etc. If you can't get it done in the next 90 days, then it needs to be planned for the next phase of the project.

Tags: Elevate-Performance, CRM