CRM Doodles


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Through a series of CRM Best Practice events that Touchstone has run, I have had an opportunity to discuss with a mixed audience of CRM cynics and proponents what determines a successful CRM project.

From those sessions and from first-hand experience of many CRM engagements, I’ve really come to understand the fundamental, and indeed the more subtle aspects, that separate winning projects from the also-rans.

The collective experience of Touchstone CRM consulting team has been captured in published Best Practice Guides, but for those short of time who prefer a visual medium, let me explain in 4 simple doodles.

1. The CRM success bell curve


Industry analysts report that 50% of project fail. Well it’s not actually that simple or black & white. Actually, the vast majority of CRM projects are completed on time & on budget. In that modern software is deployed, processes are configured, data is loaded, people are trained and dashboards are created.

This bell-curve is a more efficient way of explaining how success and failure plays out. To the left, I suggest very few projects are abandoned mid-flight. The majority are completed, but few make it to the right-hand side where tangible business value is recognised as a result of the project. Examples of that tangible value being improvement in efficiency, competitiveness, customer engagement, cost to serve, speed to market, innovation etc.

So what separates the majority, where CRM in retrospect ends up being a very expensive address book, from the winners to the right?
Well the projects that ultimately deliver have a number of characteristics….they put the customer at the centre, they are short & sharp and they focus on business outcomes, and they are executed by organisations who understand that CRM is about business change & culture.

2. Prepare the environment


Only when the stars align should you be even thinking of committing to a project. This isn’t about selecting the technology or establishing a data or training strategy. It’s about some more fundamental people and business direction questions.

Only commit when you have buy-in from the people on the ground who are going to execute the project.

Only commit when you have backing of an influential Executive Sponsor with a very vested interest in the project’s success.

Then there’s the most important aspect of the triumvirate, you need to have top-to-bottom acceptance of the problem you are trying to fix and the outcomes you are trying to drive.

3. Aligning the will to the opportunity

Successful CRM projects always operate in an environment where there is a close alignment to the overall business and customer strategy.

Many projects never get off the drawing board because of the perception of risk, or an unprovable business case or due to competing priorities. A compelling reason to act (missed opportunities, changing customer experience expectations, deserting customers, a strong competitive threat, compliance and regulatory pressures etc.) must to exist to spur the organisation into action.

But compelling reasons to act by themselves without a connection to the overarching business strategy is likely to lead to a project that in retrospect looks like an expensive folly.

4. Mind the Gap


Businesses don’t stand still, they evolve constantly to meet the changing needs of the stakeholders & customers they serve. All of which points to the need to continually assess capability of CRM in light of changing demand. If the system capability stay static over a period of time, but the business need diverges due to external pressures – a gap appears which undermines the confidence in CRM and the past investments made.

Those external pressures can be changing customer expectations, access to new markets or responding to competitor disruption. Counter this with a strong continuous improvement model which makes small incremental CRM changes over time to hone relevance, improve performance and take advantage new ideas and fresh thinking from your team.

For more information on Touchstone’s approach to successful CRM and to understand how we have helped other organisations deliver tangible business outcomes with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, register for a free of charge consultancy session with one of our team.

Dean Carroll
Dean Carroll is a 15 year customer experience strategy & technology veteran, he leads the CRM Consulting Practice for Touchstone in London. Dean has worked for technology leaders such Microsoft and Vodafone, has built award winning consulting businesses and oversees transformational CRM projects that create sustained value.


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