Getting to 'Duh!'

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Hey, you want to succeed at CRM, don't you? But be honest, do you know what you need to do most in order to succeed? What's second in importance? What's third? Not likely, according to the about-to-be released study, "CRM Best Practices: What Drives CRM Success, and What Doesn't," which I coresearched with David Mangen and Bob Thompson. The study correlates actions with outcomes across more than 400 CRM implementations worldwide, and finds that the route most predictive of happy CRM endings are on the road less traveled, while the road to unhappy endings is one big traffic jam. Now, if you've been reading anything at all about CRM, you already know better than to nominate for top predictor of success anything whatsoever connected with software. At least not in public. However, deep in your heart you may be desperate to scream at me, "It's the software, stupid." You just want to buy software and be done with CRM. I'll forgive you for wanting to scream at me. I'll just assure you that as success factors go, software is nowhere. But maybe you're the enlightened type, and you have the answer on the tip of your tongue. "People, process, and technology, in that order." Well, spit hard, because you're not going to like the taste of being wrong, especially after realizing that the right answer has been right before your eyes all along. The number one predictor of CRM success is developing customer-centric strategies--work we lack the time, budget, or patience for. The process includes: Using customer attrition data. Using customer satisfaction research. Adopting the customer perspective during planning. Developing comprehensive planning outcomes. Developing specific business objectives for CRM. Adopting the right planning tools for developing customer-centric strategies. The two of these individual activities that matter most are using customer defection rate and customer satisfaction data as a base for planning customer-centric strategies. That's right. What we need most we do least, even though the core role of research and customer-centric planning in CRM is too obvious to ignore: They provide the navigation map for the journey. But we so hate spending our precious dollars on customer research that we can still manage to deny its obvious importance. Not anymore. According to the CRM Best Practices study, the presence of customer-centric strategies is the most important factor for CRM success, and accounts for 31 percent of the explained variation between successful and unsuccessful CRM initiatives. Immediately following in importance is line-level training and support, which explains 25 percent, and organizational change, which along with statistical performance measurement against goals explains 22 percent. But developing customer-centric strategies is front and center, first in importance, right where we couldn't see it. Until now. CRM consultant Dick Lee is practice leader of Caribou Lake's Customer-1 and author of The Customer Relationship Management Survival Guide and Strategic CRM: The complete implementation manual. In addition to consulting and writing, Lee speaks internationally on CRM topics. Contact him at dlee@h-ym.com
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