Integrators Fail to Deliver Satisfaction in CRM Service Relationships
CRM professional service providers more often than not are disappointing their clients when it comes to fulfilling the goals of a CRM implementation, according to a new study by Forrester Research. "How To Select A CRM Professional Services Provider" reveals that competence in integration is not enough when partners fail to meet goals, work at strengthening the relationship, or live up to expectations. Forrester states that 40 percent of customers would not recommend their SI to another prospect.
"It was a surprise," says William Band, principal analyst, enterprise applications, and report author. "CRM is a mature industry; the people in it are pragmatic, so there shouldn't be a lot of surprises." However, of the 119 organizations surveyed, half of which had engaged a CRM professional services provider (PSP) in the past 36 months, clearly indicated weak performance by integrators. While 82 percent of responding executives agreed or strongly agreed that their PSP was knowledgeable about technical aspects of the CRM software, only 68 percent felt the same about their knowledge of a client's specific industry needs or the business processes involved in the CRM implementation.
The picture is worse when considering the PSPs' ability to maintain business relationships; only 50 percent of respondents felt the provider was easy to do business with. 46 percent said they adhered closely to the agreed-upon budget, and only 36 percent said the PSP helped find ways to lower TCO. They were more likely to adhere to schedules (60 percent), but only 48 percent consistently provided new ideas and insights. "Overall, PSPs' ability to manage relationships with a client scored below 50 percent. They weren't able to engage clients as effectively as they should," Band says. "This is ironic, especially in an industry so consulting focused, and delivering customer relationship management."
Competence and chemistry aside, integrators performed worst where it matters most: delivering results. Only half were felt to provide good value for investment, and 42 percent enabled the client to quickly realize value from the implementation; a mere 38 percent helped clients achieve results that met or exceeded expectations, and the same percentage helped improve end user productivity.
Band says that this might not all be the fault of integrators. "Many times, clients don't take the proper leadership role," he says, and advises that clients demand value from PSPs and require them to respect the budget. The Forrester report states that enterprises continue to invest heavily in CRM, to the tune of $3 billion in expected new licenses in 2006. Licenses, however, are only at most 25 percent of the total investment, with the rest going to integrators. "However, the risk is high as four out of 10 client/PSP relationships fail," the report states. By seeking an integrator with solid skills that is easy to work with and that respects needs, CRM clients can avoid the organizational and budgetary heartache of failure.
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