The focus should be on how to minimize the turbulence so that goals at all levels align.
Posted Jun 30, 2003
One of the most crucial and challenging tasks for an organization beginning a CRM initiative is to align its internal structure to being customer-centric. The challenge faced in this situation is much deeper than designing customer-centric processes or even rolling out a CRM assisting software. This is an area that deals with organizational change, people management, and change management.
As the organization moves towards the change, turbulence is expected. Consequently, the focus should be on how to minimize the turbulence so that the goals at all levels align. The key areas to look at for internally aligning the CRM initiative include:
The first step towards a successful CRM plan is to get top management to mandate and support the initiative. This also requires clear, top-down communication throughout the organization on management expectation of the initiative and management's commitment to it.
Aligning departmental goals to higher CRM goals
Each department, and each individual for that matter, has its own goals. It is important to set departmental goals that complement the CRM goal of the organization. One recommended way to do so is to have a central communication contact like a CRM facilitator or coordinator within the organization. This person would have a bigger-picture view across departments, and oversee that one department does not try to mold the CRM initiative toward its goals.
As the organizational strategy changes, departmental goals and even the company mission statement may also have to be rewritten. This is a time to communicate the commitment toward customer orientation by including customer-centric statements in the goals and mission statements. Everything from an individual's performance to the departmental performance, and, finally, organizational performance, should have a factor for customer satisfaction.
Setting up a steering committee
Give importance to the users of the processes. Because each department has its own processes to follow that come under the purview of the overall customer-oriented processes, it is a must to involve the users from the beginning. Get line-staff buy-in to the initiative. The world is full of cases of "successful" CRM "projects," but "failed' CRM 'initiatives"--the reason being lack of staff participation in customer orientation.
To ensure that each user group has a fair representation towards the initiative, set up a steering committee for the CRM plan. Each department, including IT, should have designated personnel participate in the steering committee. The CRM facilitator should lead the committee. It is essential that all representatives participate, as they are a communication channel to each of the departmental staff.
A common mistake most organizations make is to involve the employees after deciding on the processes and software. On the contrary, all change decisions involving personnel should be given high priority, since this is an area that requires training and coaching, which takes time. It is also one of the most challenging areas of a CRM initiative and crucial in CRM alignment. Change process can be smoothed by positive and clear communication and training, wherein the employees no longer feel insecure in the new organizational environment.
Though the above strategies may look like just a part of an overall CRM initiative, they are actually disciplines unto themselves and need to be used with the CRM processes to optimize the results.
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