The next generation of industry leaders will be set apart by the ability of organizations to strengthen their current relationships to protect against customer defection and loss, and to streamline their operations and people to respond quickly and effectively when customer investment rates return.
Posted Jul 21, 2003
What will set the next generation of industry leaders apart is the ability of organizations to strengthen their current relationships to protect against customer defection and loss, and to streamline their operations and people to respond quickly and effectively when customer investment rates return. Following are five strategies that will empower managers to maintain and revitalize senior management and organizational support for CRM.
1. Segment your approach.
One of the most common mistakes made around CRM has been an attempt to implement the entire gamut of CRM at once. This doesn't work, because each of the components (SFA, service, marketing automation, etc.) addresses different business needs of internal departments, responds to different customer needs, and requires different IT systems support and maintenance.
Organizations should take a segmented approach to CRM. That is, they should evaluate where their greatest customer needs and service gaps exists, what components of CRM will address these needs most successfully, then start with those components to produce initial results before moving to the next component.
Companies need to first identify customer-facing business areas that need immediate attention. Focusing on these areas will allow an organization to implement solutions that produce immediate results. This will help to build a strong business case that accurately forecasts project costs and returns on investment.
2. Use analytical CRM solutions to dig deep into historical customer data and expose patterns of behavior.
Companies can use analytics to mine historical and current customer data to identify patterns of purchasing behavior. Organizations can then capitalize on this information, ensuring high sales-and-marketing-campaign success rates.
Effective analytics will also help firms make decisions about how to handle customers based on their value. Analytics can help companies decide which customers are worth investing in, which should be serviced at an average level, and which should not be invested in at all.
The first phase should be to invest in data capture and analysis technology, building an infrastructure that is designed to enhance an organization's customer information capabilities. The goal should be to create an infrastructure that integrates customer information across all internal touch points, from sales and marketing to customer service, in an effort to streamline business processes and meet customer needs.
Integrated analytics will allow you to run customized data reports, and maximizes the data value by enabling an organization to see a complete view of its customers. Analytics will empower an organization to monitor service levels and to track campaign-effectiveness metrics and sales productivity.
3. Start using metrics.
To ensure or restore senior management support, all CRM initiatives should begin using metrics to measure goals statistically. A large percentage of failed CRM projects never tied their results to strategic corporate goals. Measurements became subjective, and led to internal fighting over accountability and results. The common result has been an inability to demonstrate CRM's real value or cost.
During the budgeting process, create realistic expectations about what the organization aims to achieve from implementing CRM. Associated costs (software acquisition, implementation, customizations, training, maintenance, and data cleansing and migration) need to be linked directly to these goals, allowing the organization to track which business units are successfully leveraging CRM and which are not.
4. Plan carefully, build a team, and phase the implementation.
The planning phase sets the stage for the success or failure of a CRM project. When mapping the implementation, give careful consideration to cultural and business obstacles when defining milestones and deliverables. The implementation team should be focused on maintaining constant communication, holding regular collaborative work sessions, and always measuring its activities against strategic goals.
A phased implementation will allow for the constant measurement of milestones and activities against corporate goals, and will as well offer the ability to demonstrate incremental progress to senior management to secure support. The project team should set both short and long-term priorities and business requirements.
5. Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Ask anyone involved in a failed CRM initiative and they will testify to a lack of communication between business units, vendors, and senior management as a major reason for failure. To ensure project success, implement an internal communications strategy at the planning phase. Start with stakeholder surveys and continue with ongoing internal public relations messages promoting milestones and incremental successes.
Cultural resistance to change can derail even the most heavily funded CRM projects, and most customer-centric strategies require significant cultural change. To lessen the burden of project rollouts it's important to effectively use communications strategies to solicit feedback, educate, and prepare the user base for the business and technology changes that will result. A user base that feels it has been part of the process will be more willing to accept it.
Companies can overcome this resistance by:
maintaining regular and scheduled communications;
presenting the benefits of change versus the consequences of not embracing it;
encouraging and soliciting feedback throughout the implementation;
managing the phases of change incrementally.