The CRM Blame Game

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Often disgruntled CRM users blame the product and the manufacturer for all their problems. The sad truth is that they will probably keep repeating their mistakes and go on to blame another product. It's safe and easy to blame the product and the vendor. Although this may avoid personal fault for a costly company failure, it doesn't accomplish the organization's real objectives.: to implement CRM successfully There's an expression that says, "When you point blame at another person/party you have three fingers pointing back at you." The idea of shifting blame, versus accepting responsibility, is human nature. With CRM it is all too common. I call it the CRM Blame Game. Blame the product, blame the consultant/vendor, blame the users--blame everyone but yourself. I have heard many CRM purchasers ask, "What does the product cost?" And, "How much do you charge an hour?" And "When can you get it done?" But, I think I'd fall off my chair if they asked, "What do you want us (the buyer) to do to make this project a success." Or, "How do we avoid the common pitfalls that typical users get in to?" The pitfalls of failure can be avoided, but not by playing the CRM blame game. Rather than reacting to failure, be proactive to avoid the causes of it. Simply reverse the causes of failure by taking the steps that lead to success. At the crux of the cause for many CRM failures are unrealistic or unaligned expectations, compounded by actions that conflict with successful practices. In other words, "cause and effect" or in plain terms, "you get what you deserve." Here are some examples of unaligned expectations with obvious consequences:
Want robust, complex capabilitiesBut think they should be able to use these features day one without training
Want to automate their processesBut don't have consistent clearly documented processes that can be automated
Want the system to reflect their own proprietary business processes and terminologyBut aren't willing to take the time to plan, design, and configure the system
Want users to intuitively know how to use an altogether new solution/technologyBut users aren't given training, coaching, and opportunity to practice, as well as the time to absorb what they learn
Want management to be able to get the data out of the system that they're looking forBut managers don't use the system themselves nor do they reinforce and reward usage -- plus nobody is auditing usage to assure the data is going into the system consistently
Want to import all their existing dataBut the existing data is a mess and out-of-date
Want to get targeted campaigns out the doorBut the basis for targeting is not there and the wrong records would get the messages
Want the system to run fast and reliablyBut the hardware and network are inadequate
Every CRM product has its strengths and weaknesses and some are certainly better than others. But somebody who approaches their CRM project implementation the right way and follows best practices will always achieve greater success with whatever they end up using than a company that makes the typical mistakes and blames everyone else for their problems. When your spine is unaligned it hurts like heck. When your tires are unaligned your car drives poorly. And when CRM expectations and practices are unaligned with patterns of success, you get a very costly failure. CRM is not easy or simple. So if you want to see results, you need to be willing to invest not just your dollars, but also your time, energy, and focus. About the author:
Robert Ritter is president of First Direct Corp.
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