Don’t Let CRM Pitfalls Trip You Up


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My Twitter feed is going wild with #social, #mobile, #CX, and #bigdata hype. But Forrester clients want practical advice for today, in addition to spotting changes on the horizon.

One of the most common questions I get is: “What are the CRM pitfalls I need to watch out for?” I surveyed nearly 150 companies to find out the problems they faced with their CRM initiatives. Here is what you need to pay attention to:

  • Crafting a customer relationship management strategy. Eighteen percent of the problems at the companies I surveyed pertain to CRM strategy. Within the CRM strategy category, specific pitfalls identified include: inadequate deployment methodologies (40%), poorly defined business requirements (25%), and not achieving organizational alignment on objectives (18%).

“Reaching a consensus between IT’s objectives and those of the business unit was a problem.” (Marketing manager, manufacturing company)

“Internal disagreements on how to implement were the cause of our problems.” (Senior director, customer support, media, entertainment, and leisure company)

  • Rearchitecting critical customer-facing processes. CRM processes consist of the work practices associated with major customer-facing business functions within an organization. Twenty-seven percent of the problems reported center on difficulties with business process management. Within the business process category, specific pitfalls to watch out for include: technical/integration difficulties in supporting company processes (48%), poor business process design (31%), and the need to customize solutions to fit unique organizational requirements (21%).

“Changes in business processes comprised almost all of our implementation challenges.” (Service management program manager, retail and wholesale trade company)

  • Selecting the right technologies. Notwithstanding the relative maturity of the traditional CRM solutions available on the market today, fully one-third of the problems reported relate to technology deficiencies. Within the CRM technology category, specific problems include: perceived functional deficiencies in vendor solutions (30%), lack of the required skill sets needed to implement the solution (23%), data problems (19%), and system performance shortfalls (19%).

“[The features the vendor] promised during the sales cycle were not fully implemented or working correctly at the time of system configuration.” (Operations controller, retail and wholesale trade company)

“[There was] a fairly steep learning curve for the product.” (Senior advisor, healthcare strategies, business services company)

  • Putting customer-centric human resources practices in place. Of all the CRM project problems reported, 22% relate to “people” issues. We found the most significant threats to be: slow user adoption (49%), inadequate attention paid to change management and training (36%), and difficulties in aligning the organizational culture with new ways of working (15%).

“Internal staff development and functional user education were two key challenges.” (Associate director, public sector company)

Reach for the stars, but don’t let the stardust blind you to the CRM snares that can trip you up.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

William Band
Bill Band is a vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research. He is a leading expert on CRM topics, having helped organizations define customer-driven strategies to achieve distinction in the marketplace for his entire career. Click here to download free related research from Forrester (free site registration required).


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