People Make or Break a CRM Initiative

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What drives CRM success is getting the people, process, and technology mix right. The people side of a CRM initiative accounts for 50 percent of its success, so it is especially important to tackle that aspect from the outset. Prior to an initiative CRM leaders should create a change management strategy that answers the question, "What's in it for me?" For the strategy to work, be sure to include these four components: Educational sessions Take time to help move people up the hierarchical change management ladder, from awareness to understanding to acceptance to involvement to commitment. And remember, you can't jump rungs on this ladder. Multimodal communications
Use different communication means (e.g., one-on-one or town hall--style in-person meetings, video or Web conferencing, hard-copy memos, newsletters, or email) to reach all target audiences frequently throughout the duration of your CRM initiative. To accomplish this, create a change management matrix that describes what will be affecting whom and when. The matrix should document the expected impact, challenges, strategies, and resolution action steps for each affected audience. Learning by doing One of the most effective ways to convince a CRM skeptic is by demonstrating success. Be sure to boldly promote your CRM quick wins and successes. Goal alignment Put into place the right carrots and sticks to align the actions needed. For many companies the CRM initiative will mean personnel working together in ways they may never have had to in the past. For example, in creating holistic customer profiles, cross-functional teams like sales, marketing, and customer service will be encouraged to share information about customers. Be prepared to openly talk about organizational changes that range from revised job responsibilities to new organizational structures. A major health insurance company recently used a change management strategy to propel its CRM success. The firm created a CRM program team divided into business process specialists, technologists, and change management specialists. Early on in the CRM program the team of change management specialists created a multistep change management framework. The framework included establishing a sense of urgency, building a competent project management team that could lead the change, creating a vision to help direct the change effort, and keeping communications simple and personal. It also included giving constructive criticism to change agents, creating multiple short-term wins, continuously invigorating the change management team with new ideas, and making change stick by articulating the connections between new behaviors and organizational success. In other words, the change management specialists took the initiative to anticipate managing change. While the importance of the people component of a CRM initiative is becoming increasingly understood, proactively addressing this area remains a challenge for even the most forward-thinking companies. But as more and more companies adopt this change management philosophy, it is increasingly imperative to turn your attention to driving successful people-change now--before your competition does. 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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