Can We All Learn to Sing Around the CRM Campfire?

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The core requirement of working toward a customer-centric business strategy is learning to work around customer needs. This means that we all must work within and around the CRM-- application interface. You know, the one that houses the beloved customer information file (CIF). But who are we to think we can actually modify our current work practices and warm up to singing together around the CRM--application/CIF-interface campfire? We are the baby boomers. We are the self-actualized, independent, overachieving, I-want-it-now generation. We are the generation that not only learned to excel in silos, we practically invented them. Departments, lines of business, strategic business units, matrixed organizations; you name it, we created it or inherited it happily. And now we find ourselves as leaders and the managers of the customer-centric business of today. How will we ever learn to modify our behavior, learn to collaborate around integrated data files that contain the bits of customer information? How well will we march to the business rules that CRM requires? The simple requirement of CRM--that is, working collaboratively around the CIF--is simply not in our DNA. The "CRMA Industry Report Card" is a recent study from the Customer Relationship Management Association (CRMA) that polled major companies in Canada. The poll supports the stuck-in-our-current-behavior genetic theory. When asked to rank CRM implementation issues from the most difficult to manage to the least difficult, respondents unanimously ranked collaborative behavior issues in the top-two problem positions. According to the Report Card, the number one issue is difficulty in instituting a customer-centric culture across the enterprise; the number-two issue is difficulty in outlining how integration and collaboration are created and sustained throughout the initiative. These results are not only an indicator of our genetic inability to collaborate, they are a valid barometer. Here's why: 1. The research recruitment methodology was airtight. CRMA recruited the CRM leader from the top-10 firms in each of three CRM bellwether sectors: retail, telecommunications, and financial services. The titles represented were vice president of CRM, vice president of marketing, vice president of IT, and vice president of operations. 2. The issues list was varied.
Respondents were asked to rank issues in a number of problem areas identified with undertaking CRM. A partial list of issues not selected in the top two include:
  • Difficulty encouraging the IT and business staffs to work together
  • Difficulty evaluating vendors and providers best suited to our corporate culture
  • Process too lengthy
  • Did not undertake a meaningful discovery phase. Did not uncover key problems to solve in the organization
  • Difficulty of vendors providing technological solution before fully understanding the business strategy 3. Anonymity was guaranteed to encourage honesty. Research results were disclosed in aggregated form only. No individual names were released. 4. Some participants were more expert than the experts. Only CRM leaders from leading industries participated in the research. Some of the individuals have been undertaking CRM for well over a decade, and had many new insights to share. This research demonstrated that collaborating around customer information continues to remain one of the key problems with undertaking CRM today. So how and when will we, as an industry, collaborate to solve the problem? Laura Pollard is president of industry association CRMA Canada and president of enterprise performance CRM consulting firm Accelerate Growth Management. Contact her at lpollard@accelerategrowth.com. The "CRMA Industry Report Card" is available online at www.crmacanada.com
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