• August 28, 2007
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

FastForward to CRM Best Practices

Taking a step back from analyzing the news, Forrester Research has created some instead, unveiling a new best-practices framework for CRM with its FastForward self-assessment format. The framework, which covers 150 top CRM capabilities, is based on interviews with more than 100 user companies, in-depth analysis of 33 vendor solutions, and discussions with 29 CRM professional services providers. "CRM is a core element of an enterprise's competitive strategy. Organizations continue to spend heavily on CRM--$11 billion annually by 2010--to grow the top line, improve customer experience, and boost the productivity of customer-facing workers," writes William Band, principal analyst, business process and applications. Despite being a large chunk of the business pie, CRM implementation failures are far from rare when a massive rip-and-replace is attempted. "When we surveyed 94 business and I.T. executives responsible for CRM initiatives, less than 50 percent were fully satisfied that the business benefits achieved met their expectations or felt they were able to quickly realize value from the applications," Band writes. "Disappointment with CRM is usually the result of poorly conceived strategies that lack a laser focus on improving a specific set of business capabilities to increase revenues or reduce costs," Band continues. To avoid wasting time and money on ill-conceived CRM programs, Forrester warns companies about the two most common pitfalls of CRM plans:
  • No strategic focus on business value. A CRM program should tightly link to business goals, focus on customer benefits, clearly identify the processes and constituencies that will be affected, and specify the associated information and functionality needs.
  • Lack of attention to business process and people issues. The potential of CRM lies not in technology itself, but in the process of using that technology alongside an in-depth understanding of the customer to drive unique, valuable customer interactions.
"The most successful CRM initiatives are framed in terms of their overall impact across the organization and the customer but are implemented in focused, incremental steps," the report states. These fall into the four typical legs of the CRM table, and also follow the layout of the FastForward assessment:
  • Define strategy;
  • Redesign processes;
  • Leverage technology; and
  • Lead people.
"To a VP of sales, CRM may mean providing remote salespeople with access to customer information or automating the generation of a quote," Band writes. "To a VP of service, CRM may mean providing customers with options for self-service. And to a VP of marketing, CRM might mean access to a 360-degree customer view to more effectively target promotions. While CRM may incorporate all of these things, it is really an enabler that provides businesses with the tools necessary to effectively interact with customers." To win in the marketplace, the Forrester framework urges companies to first define what CRM means for their own organizations and then pinpoint the specific capabilities that must be strengthened. To that end, the report states, it's not enough to read through the best practices or even to merely fill out the FastForward assessment. Forrester's closing recommendations:
  • Take it. Everyone involved in customer relationship transformation efforts should take the self-assessment and develop a personal view of the company's progress along its CRM journey.
  • Compare it. Teams should share their individual results and identify any major differences. These differences of opinion must be identified early in the process to avoid alignment problems down the road.
  • Discuss it. Use the results, both similarities and differences, as the basis for an active discussion about priorities. Where should the company focus its efforts?
  • Improve it. CRM represents a significant makeover for most firms; it will take time to reach its full potential. Always ask, "Are we improving our CRM proficiency?"
An abstract is available to the public, and the full report is available to Forrester subscription clients. Related articles: Feature: 100 Proven CRM Ideas, Part 1 Feature: 100 Proven CRM Ideas, Part 2 The good and the bad: 90 bright ideas for your CRM strategy and 10 dim ones to avoid. Feature: Making the Most of Marketing Optimizing operations can intimidate the strongest of marketing departments, but with able people, good processes, and strong technology, the beast may be conquered, one bite at a time. Only 4% of CRM Users Are Very Successful Despite the development of CRM best practices, many businesses are still struggling to properly measure the success of their implementations. The Quality Goes In Here, Too Systems that measure and improve quality have a place beyond the traditional factory floor, according to a new study; most sales and marketing departments can benefit from quality analytics. Call Center Strategies Ride the Bench A recent study shows that contact centers in all industries have similar goals and needs; teleservices is beating the pack in terms of low call abandonment. Viewpoint: CRM Success Five laws. Feature: Introduction to Cardinal Rules--10 for 10 10 years of getting right down to the real nitty gritty.
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