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How to Avoid Making Common CRM Mistakes

A customer relationship management (CRM) project can be a challenging endeavor for any company. But, for those businesses that have never embarked on an initiative of that size or scope before, the entire process – conducting a needs assessment, defining a strategy, setting a budget, selecting a vendor, training the user base, and deploying the solution – can be downright difficult.

Secure Executive Sponsorship from the Get-Go

Because CRM is often a company-wide initiative, it is crucial that you involve senior management early on in the process. Failing to do so, however, is one of the most common CRM mistakes made today. Remember that executive buy-in can lend much needed credibility to your project, which will help make every facet of it – from budget approval to user adoption and change management – faster and easier.

Coordinate Departmental Strategies

In many companies, individual divisions often embark on their own separate CRM projects, without giving much thought to the needs and goals of other customer-facing functions across the business. For example, while a sales force automation solution is being implemented in one area, a help desk automation solution has just been purchased for another. Since neither group is aware of what the other is doing, the two solutions will never be integrated, and related activities will never be coordinated.

While this approach will increase productivity and improve processes at the departmental level, this common CRM mistake will cause even greater fragmentation and inefficiency in tasks that span across multiple teams.

Choose a Solution That Fits Your Plan

The technology should fit the strategy – not the other way around. Define your plan and build your requirements list before you start contacting vendors. And, once you’ve identified your needs, hold firm and don’t let commission-hungry sales reps try to sway you. Only you can determine what your company really needs to achieve CRM success.

Prepare Financially

Customer relationship management is not a one-time expense, and you need to be prepared for the ongoing costs associated with its maintenance and enhancement.

Getting caught off guard by the additional expenditures that you are likely to incur is a very common CRM mistake – and one that can tarnish the project in the eyes of your executive sponsors and your CFO. Make sure you think ahead and budget accordingly.

Set Reasonable Goals

The purpose of CRM is to streamline and improve your customer-facing processes – not to change the world. Make sure the goals you define are reasonable and attainable. Otherwise, your CRM project is bound to fail. Try setting incremental goals that advance over time. For example, strive to increase customer retention rates by 5% within one year, 7% within 18 months, and 10% within two years. This will help you quickly realize the benefits of your solution and demonstrate rapid return on investment to your executive sponsors.

Begin Training Your Users Before Deployment

User adoption is critical to the success of your CRM project. Yet, waiting until the solution is fully deployed to begin user training is a common CRM mistake that many companies make. Start conducting training classes and hands-on workshops early on in the implementation phase, so your users become comfortable working with the system before you roll it out. This will also enable you to resolve any issues before you go into full production.