Six Ways to Unlock Value From CRM in a Down Economy

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In light of the recent sudden and dramatic deterioration of the economic climate, what are the key trends driving customer management strategies and the adoption of CRM technologies now? Locking in customer loyalty through deeper engagement and differentiated experiences will continue as critical priorities, but six key trends will drive CRM decision-making in 2009.

Trend 1: The Emergence Of The Social Consumer
Social technology adoption has increased tremendously during the past 12 months. Three in four US online adults now use social tools to connect with each other compared with 56% in 2007. This new trend – which goes by a number of names – CRM 2.0, Social CRM, and Collaborative CRM – is forcing CRM professionals to look for innovative ways to engage with these new “social consumers.” In 2009, CRM leaders will be looking to enrich the customer experience through community-based interactions, and architecting solutions that are flexible and foster strong intra-organization and customer collaboration.



Trend 2: The Imperative That CRM Strategies Deliver Business Value
I recently conducted a survey with business and IT managers about the pitfalls that trip-up CRM projects. I examined 133 separate projects. Nearly 20% of those surveyed reported troubles with their CRM strategy. Problems cited were: poor deployment approaches (40%); difficulties in defining business requirements (23%); inability to gain organizational alignment on objectives (18%); and concerns about cost (18%). During tough economic times, CRM professionals will be retooling their strategies with a focus on spotlighting the biggest opportunities for quick wins.

Trend 3: The Requirement To Fully Cost-Justify CRM Investments
CRM professionals tell me that during this economic downturn they need bullet-proof financial arguments to get funding for their projects. In 2009, every business case must answer four critical questions: What are the business benefits? What is the impact on IT or project costs? Is future flexibility increased or decreased? How will risks be mitigated? CRM vendors will be challenged more than ever to provide clear and specific data about the business value their solution can deliver.

Trend 4: The Necessity To Reduce The Risk Of CRM Initiatives
CRM professionals cannot afford failed CRM projects, particularly in down markets when business survival may be at stake. There are plenty of risks to worry about. In the survey of CRM professionals mentioned above, over 200 individual problems were reported. Thirty-three percent of the problems related to technology, 27% to business processes, 22% to people, and 18% to CRM strategy. In 2009, “risk-proofing” CRM projects will near the top of the priority list for CRM professionals.

Trend 5: The Need To Get More Value From Customer Information
CRM professionals tell me that poor customer data management is one of the biggest barriers to getting value from their CRM programs. In a recent Forrester survey of over 1,000 North American and European decision-makers, 44% said that a master data management initiative was a critical or important priority for 2008. But, the right approach to customer data management is elusive. In 2009, I expect CRM professionals will continue to focus intently on how enterprises collect, distribute, and use customer data to create value.



Trend 6: The Battle to Redefine Vendor Pricing And Licensing Arrangements
Forrester interviewed 25 clients of leading enterprise applications providers and surveyed 215 business process and applications professionals about their software licensing and pricing experiences. According to these users, software licensing and pricing continues to be marred by complexity, soaring maintenance costs, and a lack of flexibility and alignment with business goals. With resources increasingly scarce, but key vendors pushing hard for up-grades for their products, CRM professionals will have to sharpen their negotiating skills to get more value from their vendor relationships in the coming year.

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