5 Ways to Refocus Your CRM Efforts

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In today's world of diminishing loyalty organizations must maximize their relationships with customers. So, what can CRM user companies do differently in 2005 to improve their CRM results? Here are five recommendations. Enhance your business processes prior to CRM automation Wal-Mart corporate headquarters is aware of each sale at each store within 15 minutes of the purchase. Within an hour, the purchased item has been replaced on the shelf. Leveraging buyer knowledge allows Wal-Mart to build customer profiles from which they determine how best to stock their stores. This type of well-defined CRM business process is not by chance, but planned. It has helped propel Wal-Mart to its dominant leadership position. Execute change management activities to secure organizational CRM readiness
AAA Mid-Atlantic's executive committee put the brakes on its CRM initiative in mid-2004. Although the decision was not well received at the time, it was the right one to make: AAA's employees were not yet ready for CRM. In fact, they were being asked to buy in to three major customer-focused initiatives at once--a major distribution channel initiative, a key organizational effectiveness initiative, and a complex CRM initiative. It was too much. AAA's executive committee halted all three, created an umbrella initiative called Member First, and then launched a change management program that includes communications, training, and organizational readiness activities to help AAA employees feel comfortable making required changes. The good news is, the program is working. Listen, train, communicate then listen, train, communicate some more A purportedly forward-thinking executive team at a local government agency created a CRM initiative that included customer scorecards, a new customer contact center, enhancements to customer-facing business processes, and a multistep CRM training program. During the initial training sessions the trainer listened carefully to the users' needs, wrote them down, and circulated them to the executive team. Several of these needs revolved around executive commitment to the CRM initiative, including providing users with sufficient time to implement enhanced business processes, learn new technologies, and assimilate change. Rather than committing to additional change-readiness activities, including badly needed training, several of the executives went on a witch hunt to determine which users were questioning their commitment to the initiative. Then came the memorable line from the head of the executive team, "We have no more money for training; let's just get the technology installed." If you're committed to listening, training, and communicating, there is no halfway solution. Leverage the growing capability of real-time CRM This year will prove to be a banner year for real-time CRM, which I believe is the next CRM "craze." From the Boeing story (using real-time, wireless applications to decrease the time it takes to manufacture an airplane from six months to four) to Cisco's ability to close its books daily, the technical infrastructure is now available so that executives can receive real-time customer information and make real-time customer decisions. If your competition is leveraging real-time CRM and you are not, what's your likelihood, realistically, of nailing your 2005 goals? Hold vendors accountable Increasingly, user companies are holding CRM vendors responsible for the success of their CRM implementations. This may not necessarily be good news for CRM systems integrators, but it is good news for user companies. Your job is to negotiate a good implementation deal with your CRM software vendor and integration partner, and then to carefully manage that implementation using either your own project manager or an external engagement manager. Barton Goldenberg is president and founder of ISM Inc., a CRM and real-time enterprise consulting firm in Bethesda, MD. He is the author of CRM Automation and the publisher of The Guide to CRM Automation. Contact him at bgoldenberg@ismguide.com
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