DCI show serves up a content-rich CRM agenda.
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The recent West Coast DCI show had all the pomp and circumstance of a large show, but without the crowds.
The conference, held at the Los Angeles Convention Center, drew roughly 450 attendees (not including vendors), nearly half of 2000's showing. Another 1,500 attended the expo. But surprisingly, some of the largest CRM vendors, including Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft Inc., and SAP AG, did not attend.
"September 11 and the sluggish economy have affected the show's turn out," asserts one attendee. InternetWorld, held in New York the same week as DCI, may also have affected attendance.
For the crowd that did attend, however, the show addressed paramount issues relevant to the changing attendee composition. "When we first launched the DCI show, we had about 70 percent IT professionals and 30 percent businesspeople," says Barton Goldenberg, co-chairman of the event and president of ISM Inc., a CRM consulting firm. Now, that has switched, he says, to 70 percent businesspeople and 30 percent IT people.
Therefore, the seminars and keynote speeches leaned heavily toward business issues and C-level concerns. In addition to Goldenberg, some of the headliners included Peter Solvik, CIO of Cisco Systems Inc., Rick Page, author of Hope Is Not a strategy, and Don Tapscott, a well-known industry speaker and author of Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs.
For Cisco's Solvik, customer satisfaction is the key issue when implementing CRM. "If you look at all the factors for the success of a company long term, nothing is more important than customer loyalty," he says.
Often companies lose sight of the goal of implementing CRM: improving customer relationships. "A lot of CRM solutions are employee-enabled, but the goal is to target a CRM solution for the customer, not the employee," Solvik says.
To further prove the value of customer satisfaction, he cited industry statistics on customer dissatisfaction. "U.S. companies lose 50 percent of their customers every five years and 66 percent of customers defect because of bad customer care," Solvik says. Meanwhile, companies can keep an existing customer for one-fifth of the investment of acquiring a new customer. "A five percent increase in customer service can double profits," he maintains.
Solvik suggests each company should have their customers take a satisfaction survey regularly. Customers should rate their experience on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being best. "If your customer satisfaction is a neutral rating of 3 with a customer, there is a 60 to 70 percent chance you will not retain that customer," Solvik says.
To bolster customer satisfaction, Solvik suggests that companies should create a compensation plan that awards all employees for improved customer satisfaction. "The great return comes when loyal customers refer new ones," he says.
Goldenberg's focus was equally strategic. Based on his experiences with more than 300 customers spanning 18 years, of which 90 percent have had successful CRM implementations, Goldenberg led a seminar on his 10 Critical Success Factors.
One of those factors takes a try-before-you-buy approach by prototyping the system. "If your business case can't be determined in the pilot, abandon the project," Goldenberg says.
Once it has been determined to go ahead with a particular CRM software solution, train employees often, Goldenberg suggests. "You have to have continuous training. For every $1 spent on technology, companies should budget $1.5 on training," he says.
As part of a company's implementation plan, Goldenberg says, employees need to be motivated to use the incoming CRM system. He cites one company, McGraw-Hill, which told employees several times its intention to roll over to a new CRM system. The plan was to have the CRM system completely installed in two months, with 50 percent installed the first month and the remaining 50 percent installed the second month. "They had a revolt," Goldenberg says about the people who were to change over in the second month but refused to wait the extra month. "It's all about ongoing communicating throughout the project."- -David Myron
Goldenberg's 10 Critical steps to CRM Success
1. Determine the function to automate
2. Automate only what needs automating
3. Gain top management support
4. Employ technology and information smartly
5. Secure user ownership
6. Prototype the system
7. Train users
8. Motivate personnel
9. Administrate the system
10. Keep management committed