Articles Editor Joshua Weinberger asked industry experts what it takes to be successful in a CRM initiative.
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Laura Preslan, research director, AMR Research "It comes down to a business case with real metrics that are tied to business goals. If you know what you want out of the solution at the end, you have a much better chance of obtaining the goal. It sounds simple, but it is a hard question to answer."
Phil Kautzman, vice president of Global Alliances, E.piphany "If you take a big bang approach--where you're going to sign up for everything and roll it all out at once--you're asking for trouble. Think big, but start small, and get incremental wins along the way--incremental wins with incremental ROI."
Denis Pombriant, managing principal, Beagle Research "You might not plan to fail, but there are lots of implementations that fail for lack of planning.... Organizations that plan their implementations by assessing their business needs and ensuring that those needs are met are most successful in CRM deployments."
Jonathan Wu, senior principal at consultancy Knightsbridge Solutions "Managing user expectations is key. If you don't manage them, they'll manage you."
Jana Eggers, general manager, Intuit QuickBase "To earn ROI your system must be flexible enough to work the way you work and generate reports easily and proactively, so you can ensure you are following the triumvirate of customer, company, and employee. Most often forgotten are the employees. If they can't work efficiently and effectively, system participation dwindles and the information entered is sketchy or, even worse, missing."
Chris Selland, vice president, sell-side research, Aberdeen Group "Alignment with business requirements is far and away the largest component of success. Unfortunately too many companies don't even think about what their business requirements are before they start shopping for software. Those are the companies that fail--those that treat CRM as a technology project, rather than a business initiative."
Nalini Indorf Kaplan, global practice leader of the Customer Experience Group and senior vice president, MasterCard Advisors "Trying to solve all the tactical challenges of CRM is not as simple as 'there's no executive alignment.' Executives and companies are naive about the degree of work it takes to make these things work. It really is about adoption and customer experience."
Steve Daines, vice president of customer care, RightNow Technologies "First, it's important to clearly establish a 'before' benchmark measure, then compare [that] to the results after implementation. Second, the implementation must be fast. If implementations drag out over several months, then the before/after measures carry less weight, because other variables come into play.... Getting systems live in less than two months...is critical to generate a solid ROI argument."
Mark Mader, senior vice president, global services, Onyx Software "Most CRM systems generate ROI. However, those...not grounded in a balance of 'soft' and 'hard' factors have a difficult time proving it.... Soft ROI--generally customer-centric metrics--is difficult to quantify, but often the justification for a project [anyway]. It is equally important to target hard ROI--process-specific areas for improving operational efficiency, sales throughput, service resolution time, or marketing reach. Hard ROI is more straightforward and makes it easier to measure the success of the solution."
Rebecca Wettemann, vice president of research, Nucleus Research "Getting a positive ROI from CRM is easy: You just have to have a clear business strategy, find the right technology to support it, and motivate users to use it.... If you don't get the business strategy and the technology choice right, your users lose."
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