A few years ago I embarked on a large scale operational CRM project for a financial services group. I was pretty excited about the prospects of developing an organisation-wide approach to customers through the sales and service teams, that at the time were split across various product lines, brands and customer segments. From years of experience on the customer-side of the business I was confident there were benefits in taking a whole of business approach to the customer.
Then I went to a seminar led by one of the leading research firms in the world, and I was informed that CRM had a failure rate greater than 70% and they supplied the top 10 reasons for failure. I kept a copy of that top 10 with me for three years as we developed a customer strategy, and deployed six core pieces of technology that supported the business strategy. Each week I checked the failure list to ensure we had taken initiative to mitigate the risks of failure. If there was something we had not addressed or we did not have a plan for, then we developed one. Within 12 months of the operational CRM deployment we had returned a 100% return on investment, and the benefits kept rolling in.
Over the following years as I taught CRM at the Brisbane Graduate School of Business (QUT) and consulted on many CRM projects for a broad range of organisations, I fine tuned the list.
The Top Ten “must do’s” for CX and CRM
What you see below is the development of those top ten things that will keep your Customer Experience (CX) or Customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives on track for success
Keep the Leadership team and Board fully apprised of the Customer Strategy.
This includes how the strategy was developed, how it will bring greater value to the organisation over the long term, how you intend to operationalise is it. This is a long-term strategy, you need their unwavering support.
The incentive and reward mechanisms will need realignment
(potentially serious). Part of the change approach needs to address the – soon to be outdated – systems that keep people focused on the old ways and this can involve all levels of the organisation. (for example: the ‘product house’ exec’s in the financial services group (banking, wealth management and insurance) shifted their bonus schemes from 100% on profit/underwriting result, to 50/50 that included changes to the customer portfolio mix).
People are the organisms that keep the business system alive.
Communicate, engage and enable buy-in with the whole workforce. There needs to be alignment with the new approach and the workplace culture. This is a change effort, bring the people along with you, otherwise there will be no-one there to make the decisions (small and large) to keep the customer strategy living when your work is done.
Remember to look outside-in
. You may well have developed your strategy from looking into your existing customer portfolio to understand how value is exchanged and where the value can best be optimised for both the business and the customer. Remember to balance this with a good dose of customer perspective. Use an open mind to test and validate (or not) your assumptions about what your customers value.
Design and fully integrate your technology and customer data into the business
. Development and deployment of the systems (tech and data) can often override the strategy (particularly when the it is vague). The execution of strategy into the business-system is the initiative. The data enables it and the technology supports.
Ensure the strategy is fully integrated.
Develop a fully integrated structure of processes that will provide life-support for the strategy. Once the people have bought-into the strategy and the benefits for customers and the business, you must ensure that everything works towards supporting them in keeping the strategy alive.
Treasure customer data and insights
. Value the information you have, invest in data science and create capability in analytics. What you know now is only the start of the story. Push for deeper insights into customer behaviour and value, develop these insights into implementable trials to test validity with customers. Mature your story into an epic.
Once the implementation has started there will be a whole range of other initiatives and ideas that are likely to take the customer initiative of course. Projects here, a new shiny object over there, can dilute the will of the business to stay on course. Ensure you create monitoring and internal protagonists to steer these initiatives towards the same destination.
Create an interdisciplinary team for implementation.
As highlighted above, this is not an IT or business only initiative. To be successful and bring the strategy to life you will need a team of people that are competent across a range of disciplines. Equal voices building the pathway to truce value creation with customers.
Evidence and validation.
This is not an evangelical journey of faith alone, this is long-term business survival. You need to be able to measure and validate the benefits of the strategy. Use a proven method. Where the benefits do not first appear, look into the data to understand more deeply; learn, finetune, adapt, measure and communicate progress.