A CRM Starter Pack: Strategic Steps to Success

Headlines abound with news of CRM application failures--with failure rates as high as 80% being reported. At the same time, technology application providers continue to sell CRM as the ultimate solution for business success. It's sometimes difficult to read between all the hype. You may be left wondering: Is CRM salvation, or is it snake oil? The answer is neither, with the reality of CRM falling somewhere between the two.

CRM, when approached correctly, has the potential to significantly improve business results. If approached incorrectly, you could spend considerable sums of money on expensive technology applications without ever seeing any tangible benefits.

The following parameters will help ensure that even if your CRM initiatives don't amount to "salvation", they will yield significant, positive impacts for your business.

Editor's note: each parameter below is followed by links to articles we at destinationCRM.com found to be relevant to the author's suggested steps. Each link will open in a new window, allowing readers to retain this page as a guide.

1. Accurately Assess Your CRM Needs

CRM is not right for every company. Begin by clearly defining your business issues and needs, and then determine whether CRM can and should be a part of the solution. CRM strategies that are clearly linked to business objectives have a much greater likelihood of success.

Eight steps to Developing a CRM Roadmap

Map out your company's goals to determine its needs in a CRM implementation.

A structured Approach to Retail CRM

A carefully organized strategy is essential when implementing the technology component of a retail CRM solution.

How Do I Cost-Justify This stuff?

Calculating return on investment for your CRM project requires consideration of many factors.

How to Evaluate CRM Consultants

Engaging the right consultant is your best bet for a successful CRM implementation.

CRM as a Sequential Four-step Process

Once software is separated from process, CRM emerges as a customer-centric business strategy supported, not driven, by technology.

2. Don't View CRM As A Technology Initiative

CRM applications can be a viable component of a CRM strategy, but they are not the whole solution. Leading your CRM efforts with technology solutions is akin to allowing the tail to wag the dog. Understand your business requirements and design the right business processes to support relationship management, and allow technology to play the right role... as an enabler.

Rapp: A CRM strategy Beyond Technology

German CRM pundit Reinhold Rapp rails against companies throwing technology at problems, insisting that customer segmentation should come first.

It's the People, stupid!

Whether the technology likes it or not, it's time to remind ourselves who is at the center of CRM

CRM Requires a New Management Mindset

CRM depends on management commitment to customer care

3. Understand Customer Requirements

CRM initiatives are intended to drive better relationships with customers. And the relationships that are most important to your company are those that provide the greatest profit potential. To make intelligent decisions about CRM strategy and technology, it is critical that you understand your customer's value, needs, requirements and behaviors. This understanding allows you to build systems and processes based on customer requirements and to allocate your CRM expenditures toward customer segments that are likely to yield the greatest returns.

Part One: Integrating Customers into Enterprise strategy

This is the first column in an exclusive six-part series discussing CRM strategy.

Distinguishing How You Service Accounts

Grouping all accounts into one category could reap havoc on your bottom line.

CRM Analytics in Action

Get to know your customers better with CRM analytics software

The 360-Degree View

The key to effective relationship management is crafting a comprehensive customer view.

4. Quantify Expected Returns from CRM

The old adage "You can't manage what you can't measure" remains true today. Part of the reason CRM has failed to prove its worth has been the inability to demonstrate measurable benefits. Don't be satisfied with intuitive CRM benefits alone. Ensure your planned strategies and expenditures are clearly linked to measurable business impacts. And, leverage those measurable results to gain support and momentum for your CRM efforts.

The SCORE Methodology Measures Your CRM Implementation

Need to conduct a CRM needs assessment, evaluate packages and/or implement a solution? SCORE really scores.

Great CRM Hinges on Great Business Processes

First-rate processes must be in place before CRM can be successfully introduced.

Getting CEOs Onboard With Your Customers

Many Chief Executives Must Relearn Competitive Analysis to Become Customer-Centric

Research Reveals Reasons for Lost Loyalty

At eGain's conference, loyalty guru Frederick Reichheld revealed the potential risks of making bad judgement calls when it comes to retaining the loyalty of regular customers and employees

Five Predictions for CRM Sales Tools

Sales automation becomes more sophisticated as CRM software integrates with new business processes.

5. Make CRM An Enterprise-Wide Initiative

CRM efforts within an organization are often championed by one functional area, and strategies are pursued in a functional vacuum. This approach fails to consider that almost all business processes involve more than one functional area within the company. The greater the level of integration among all functional areas, the better experience you'll be able to deliver to your customers.

Why We Can't Implement What We Don't Understand

Laura Pollard, president of CRMA Canada, discusses CRM marketing vs. CRM management.

The CEO and CRM: Only Leaders Need Apply

CRM initiatives need leadership, and that leadership should come from the top.

Making Change

Discover how change management can promote the success of your CRM project.

Selling CRM Inside Your Company

One of the keys to successfully implementing a CRM project is getting your users to buy into the idea.

standing on All Fours

CRM is not a three-legged stool; it's a four-legged chair.

If It Ain't Brook

Which SFA technology is right for your company? Try asking the people who will use it.

6. Ensure Integration Across All Distribution Channels

Customers today demand the ability to do business through more than one channel of distribution, and they expect a seamless transition between channels. Consumers will never understand why a product bought on-line can't be returned to the local store. These consumer demands require you to track information about customers across all channels and to develop integrated systems, data and processes. That way you're able to project one view of your company to customers, and one view of the customer to all areas/channels within your company.

The Customer Interaction Center Advantage

In a two-part series, this column explores channels, tools and processes that help companies provide the tailored customer service they need to stay competitive.

The Customer Interaction Center Advantage

The second of a two-part series, this column continues to explore channels, tools and processes that help companies provide the tailored customer service they need to stay competitive.

The Insurance Industry: A New Customer Policy

Hampered by regulation and a reputation for poor service, the insurance industry takes back ownership of its customer channels through new CRM initiatives.

Cisco Connecting Channels

Cisco works with partners to create a communication system to handle customer interactions from all channels.

7. Employees Will Make or Break Your CRM Efforts

The best CRM strategies and applications don't stand a chance of succeeding without employee buy-in. You have the choice between making your employees an ally or dealing with them as an adversary. Leveraging employee input on CRM strategy development and application selection on the front-end will lead to greater buy-in post implementation. Your efforts to ensure employee alignment should also include skill development, awards/incentives, tools to gather and address feedback, and ongoing communication strategies.

Syncing In

Evaluate and improve the effectiveness of your sales force training.

Motivating Your Sales Force to Accept CRM

Achieving a smooth transition into CRM means listening to and addressing the various needs of a reluctant sales force.

Selling IT Investments to the Board

Finance directors must go beyond traditional cost/benefits analysis in convincing the board to invest in IT infrastructure.

The Well-accessorized Sales Manager

A comprehensive sales manager's application must include four essentials: quotas, compensation, contest and territory.

Learning Lessons from CRM Failures

While 70-80 percent of CRM training is still done in the classroom, many users are discovering the cost and time savings of going virtual.

8. Be Willing to Change Your Processes

Using new CRM technology to enable ineffective business processes is like putting pearls on swine. You will have spent a lot of money, and still be left with a pig. Invest in designing or redesigning business processes to more efficiently and effectively manage customer relationships

Defining Your Company's CRM Rules of Engagement

To succeed at CRM, first develop guidelines for engaging different levels of your company.

Great CRM Hinges on Great Business Processes

First-rate processes must be in place before CRM can be successfully introduced.

E-Lectrifying Customer Relationships

With e-CRM, the key to success lies in the development of an effective strategy.

9. Build the Right CRM Infrastructure

There are a number of critical components to an effective relationship management system including; data warehouses, decisions support tools, links to operational systems, front-end applications, and staff to manage implementation and maintenance. Many companies spend considerable sums of money on CRM without achieving the anticipated results because they fail to address all of the basics of a strong CRM infrastructure.

Part Two: Migrating to a Customer-Centric Model

A framework for successful customer relationship management.

Implementing CRM: Fully Integrated or Best-of-Breed?

When choosing a new CRM solution, do you go with a fully integrated CRM package or do you choose best-of-breed components that fit each functional requirement but must be integrated with each other?

Is it Time to Jump on the ASP Bandwagon?

Paying someone to host your CRM apps might save you time and money, but watch your step when choosing a vendor

Evaluating CRM Solutions: What to Consider

When picking the CRM solution that's right for you, start with the basics.

CRM and Field Service: The Untapped Connection

Fewer than one in 20 companies have automated the link between field service and CRM systems--but the potential for unrealized profits is in the billions.

10. Recognize that CRM Is a Change Effort

Enterprise-wide CRM can be all-encompassing, consisting of people, processes and technology. Few companies are recognized for outstanding customer relationship management, as the road to CRM success is a long one. Successful companies view the path to CRM as an evolution and are willing to make mistakes, learn from them, and regroup to get closer to the goal. Treat CRM as a change effort--gain sponsorship of company leaders, establish success measures, recognize and reward successes, and establish processes to ensure continuous improvement. Allocate dedicated resources toward managing change and maintaining momentum for CRM efforts and you will be much more likely to achieve success.

Making Change

Discover how change management can promote the success of your CRM project.

CRM Works--Only If You Create the Right Environment

To implement CRM successfully, you'll have to reorganize your customer and change your organizational mindset.

CRM, in and of itself, is neither salvation nor snake oil. The impact of CRM on your business is dependent upon how well grounded your CRM strategy is in a solid business plan. Follow these ten parameters for developing and executing a CRM plan of action, and you will significantly increase your likelihood of producing positive, measurable results.

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