People and Processes Make CRM Work

Are you reducing the challenges your people have to go through to get work done for your customers? In most companies there are many process gaps. Process gaps occur when the customer wants one thing but the process produces something else.

The process may stop at the boundaries of the organization, which do not allow documents to flow between functions or any outside organization. In short process gaps occur when there is a disconnect between what the customer wants and what the process delivers.

Managers commonly believes that deploying CRM technology will bridge these gaps. But these gaps often exist because the processes that affect the customer are poorly designed. These poorly designed processes cause wait times between the steps a customer has to take to get what they want. Examples of these are:

•Processes that require too many managers' approval

•Processes that don't add any value to the customer experience

•Processes that cannot get done properly because of poor organizational culture(i.e. a culture that rewards individuals with information, chilling collaboration)

•Processes that are not done properly because individuals do not understand the goal of the organization.

The question, then, is How is CRM technology going to fix these gaps? If you've installed CRM technology that is supposed to make these processes run more efficiently, what happens if you haven't changed the processes? What happens if the processes are so complex in the first place that new technology doesn't can't improve them?

Implementing CRM requires discipline and a commitment to closing gaps and removing resistance to change. It involved much more than just automating existing processes. Automating processes just speeds up the "old goat paths," increasing the rate at which bad processes are performed.

When managers make the decision to slam dunk CRM technology, they often unknowingly speed up the poor processes. You've got to define the processes clearly, keeping only those that are necessary and add value. For example, a large oil company created an application to enable more than 300 distributors to order products via the Web. The company redesigned and streamlined the old processes first and then chose the right CRM technology to enable the new processes to work over the Web.

The goal should be to close the process gaps to make it easier for your customer do business with you; the goal should not be installing CRM technology. The customer might want instant information, but the process takes too long to deliver it. The customer might want to trade physical transactions for virtual ones, (e.g. electronic invoices), but the process requires paper.

How are you going to bridge those gaps without involving your people?

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