Firms Are Satisfied With CRM

By now, just about everyone with the slightest interest in CRM has read a report or article citing a high failure rate for CRM initiatives. In a February 2003 brief, Forrester Research said that its recent findings differ dramatically. In a poll of 111 corporate decision-makers at firms with more than $500 million in annual revenues, three quarters of the survey group expressed satisfaction with its CRM results. Don't break out the champagne yet, however. Fully two thirds of respondents were "somewhat satisfied," while just over 8 percent characterized themselves as "very satisfied." The results, and the weighting, were virtually identical when the question was about the satisfaction with the CRM software vendor or with the results of the CRM implementation overall. That's why Forrester principal analyst Bruce Temkin says that while the CRM industry is doing better in delivering results than many have been led to believe, it is still not necessarily doing a bang-up job fully delivering on promises. "I give the industry a C," he says. The largest obstacle to success, cited by nearly half the survey group, was corporate resistance to the process changes that come as part of a CRM transformation. Temkin credits that to a disconnect between the mantra that CRM is more than just technology, and the implementation strategies usually put forth in the marketplace. "People were overly focused on the technology and forgot about the process change," he says. However, Temkin does point out one positive area regarding technology: The fact that most organizations are not struggling with technology is in itself a good thing. "It's showing the maturity of the marketplace that we're getting to the point where the technology itself isn't the barrier, but everyone--users, technology vendors, system integrators--has to do a better job of factoring process change into their overall project methodology." Another curious item from the Forrester report is a large gap in usability scores between the happy and the hostile. Twenty-five percent of dissatisfied firms impeached their CRM software usability, while just 5 percent of companies who felt positive about their CRM implementations made such a complaint. Temkin suggests that the problem in many organizations does not lie with how the software operates, but why. "If there's nothing in it for [users], it's difficult for them to use and they stay away from it." As ever, your mileage may vary, and this survey's results are certainly no comfort to organizations that are painfully thrashing with a CRM implementation gone awry, just as earlier gloom-and-doom reports never troubled those who were perfectly happy with their results.
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