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Organizational Development Can Increase CRM Performance

Maximum CRM effectiveness requires the cooperation and support of executives and employees throughout an organization. Many studies have found that active executive endorsement for a CRM project positively influences employee acceptance and support for the project. Employee support is important because customer contact employees, sales representatives, service people, and call center representatives project their feelings about the organization to the customer during customer interactions; these interactions can greatly influence the customer's relationship with the organization. Employee support for CRM is also necessary to motivate employees to cooperate with and complete CRM processes. Organizational Development (OD) is an effective tool to create the executive and employee support needed to maximize CRM effectiveness. OD is defined as an enterprisewide effort to increase organizational effectiveness through planned interventions using behavioral science knowledge. A fully functional CRM solution requires input, support, and participation from many parts of the organization. Managers are influenced by the specific requirements, reward systems, and demands of their specific operation. To gain acceptance and support for CRM, managers must understand the overall organizational benefit; the rewards and responsibilities of the individual department must be congruous with organizational CRM effort. OD interactions that may benefit the management team include:
  • goal formation, to help establish the need and acceptance of CRM throughout the enterprise; and
  • reward systems, to make sure that the management rewards for the departments are supportive of and congruent with the CRM effort.
Once the management team has accepted the need for CRM in the enterprise, and once departmental goals and rewards are made congruent with enterprise CRM effort, then
interventions for customer contact employees should be considered. The introduction of CRM may cause modifications in processes and procedures at the departmental employee level. Employees resist change because new job requirements may adversely affect their competencies, worth, and coping abilities. Employees often do not embrace change unless they believe that there is a compelling reason for it and they're convinced that the change will not harm them. A change-management intervention will help overcome employee resistance and build employee acceptance of the required new behaviors. A job can be designed such that it creates fulfillment and motivation--or it can create tension and lack of motivation. If jobs are going to be redesigned because of CRM, organizations should consider a work-design intervention. Properly designed jobs will maximize worker motivation, skill variety, task identity, task significance, and autonomy. Team-building is an intervention that helps work groups become more effective. Studies have found that teams work extremely well in customer contact departments. High-functioning teams can:
  • improve task accomplishment;
  • increase employee motivation; and
  • overcome lack of interest by participants.
The acceptance of new processes and applications requires that employees be properly trained. Employees may reject a new system because they believe it to be too difficult to use. Often the underlying problem is simply that the employees were not properly trained on how to use the system. High-quality employee training will enhance the acceptance of CRM. These are but a few of the many OD interventions that may increase the effectiveness of CRM. Organizations that are interested in pursuing OD as a tool should work with a qualified OD professional to diagnose the human factors in their organization before recommending specific interventions. Additionally, the credentials and references of the OD professional should be thoroughly reviewed to verify experience and prior success in projects of a similar nature, size, and complexity. OD can help organizations to maximize the effectiveness of CRM if properly executed. To implement OD, organizations should:
  • insure that they are working with qualified OD professionals;
  • conduct a thorough diagnosis of the organization to determine the needs; and
  • execute the necessary OD interventions.
About the Author Dr. Richard Lutz is a full time professor/administrator at Quinnipiac University. He has CRM industry experience and he conducts research about organizational culture and leadership. Dr. Lutz can be reached at Richard.lutz@quinnipiac.edu.
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