What are the problems that you face when the idea of a CRM system is at its most nascent stage?
You need to convince yourself that CRM is indeed required and for what. Getting a buy-in from different departments like finance, IT, marketing, etc is a huge headache in itself.
There’s money to be pumped into the deployment and the person that sanctions it is putting his neck on the line, and will be breathing down your neck. You need to build a case for a quick and healthy ROI and at the same time convince potential users that the system will work according to the company business practices and not vice versa.
A half-cock attempt at CRM without a top-down buy-in is doomed to failure and much heartburn. It’s easy to convince yourself that all you need to do is to deploy a CRM system, implement industry best practices and voila! Your bottomline shows signs of health.
Unfortunately, it does not happen that way. One of the main causes of a CRM system failing is that the foundation is not laid properly. By this I mean that your requirements as a user are not clear in your head, a critical issue if you are implementing CRM for the first time in your company. The company vision regarding CRM is not clear, in the absence of vision it is impossible to have a solid change management plan that ensures acceptance of the system by the end users.
The road to a successful CRM deployment is a winding one where pitfalls can trap the unwary. According to AMR Research figures released in 2004, 28% of CRM deployments fail to go live and as many as 33% have user adoption problems. To avoid these you need to take steps at the deployment stage itself.
Integration is key to the smooth working of a CRM system.
Integrating with legacy systems and information databases located at geographically discrete locations is crucial so that customer support objectives are met. When companies successfully integrate silos of information, the job of the customer-facing executive becomes easier.
The organization is able to obtain a single truth about the customer and add new information to the already existing one. Of course, in an ideal situation, there would be just one central database of information but that rarely happens and even when it does, it is important that the database be connected to tools like the telephone, email, scheduling software etc that employees use.
Employee acceptance gets truly tested when the system goes live; the wise project manager will not wait for the system to go live to gauge employee reaction, he will have his finger on the pulse of future system users and take their points into consideration.
So whether it is a grudge about manually having to punch in volumes of data because automatic data migration is facing glitches; the fact that the process of wrapping up a deal takes three minutes longer; sales guys need to stay connected and updated on the latest before making a pitch, etc – the manager in charge of the project has to try and get everything right in the dry run itself. Or else, poor employee perception can very easily be transferred to the customer.
The objective of a CRM system is getting more customers, more mindshare, and ultimately more wallet-share of more customers. The value add to the customer has to be tangible enough for it to register and make him come back and also propagate your customer service to others. Customers are willing to undergo a little discomfort of filling up forms and parting with information if treated with tact and respect. This is the human element of a CRM approach; although not totally independent of the CRM system.
A CRM system can be benign and extremely useful, or a headache and a cause of stress depending upon your approach to it. A design that complements the business processes, accurate data, and user participation are the factors that go into the deployment and use of a CRM system in a successful manner.
[Photo courtesy of EXPRESS.]