Firms of all sizes in multiple industries across the globe are turning to CRM to attain and maintain a competitive advantage. Companies rely on CRM solutions to track valuable prospect and client information, such as:
- contact data
- interaction activity
- transaction history
- key decision-makers
- influential stakeholders
- third-party relationships with vendors, consultants, partners, and lead sources
Top-tier firms go one step further and analyze and interpret their captured customer data to have a deeper understanding of their client base. Client preferences, needs, concerns, and likelihood of switching can be anticipated, and a customer’s lifetime value to the company can be measured and forecast. All of these newfound useful insights and knowledge can be converted into actionable client, relationship, and business intelligence, which can then be shared throughout the organization, and ultimately used to better serve and meet the needs of customers. Furthermore, firms can identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities more easily now and also deliver more value to their most profitable and loyal customers. Additionally, the decision-support capabilities of today’s CRMs allow firms to identify high-growth target market segments and prospects.
CRM technology by itself does not improve revenue and profitability, though. Nor does the data stored within the CRM system. Instead, CRM is more so a business strategy built upon instilling a customer-centric culture and promoting customer loyalty and satisfaction.
Firms with a comprehensive CRM strategy that is tightly intertwined with an overall corporate strategic vision are able to more effectively respond and adapt to competitive threats, economic pressures, and market and industry trends.
Prior to implementing a CRM tool, though, firms need to first conduct advanced planning and have their CRM strategy and goals formalized.
As Benjamin Franklin said,
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
I can’t emphasize this point enough! Doing so will result in the project team being crystal clear on what it’s setting out to accomplish, the project’s odds of success will increase, the many moving parts of the project will appear less daunting, and it maximizes ROI and minimizes TCO.
Additionally, executive sponsors of the CRM initiative must constantly communicate to the user base how adopting a CRM strategy and implementing a CRM solution will help the organization meet its business objectives. The executive sponsors should be highly visible throughout the engagement and not just during the project kickoff. They should be highly vocal, easily accessible, and stress that business processes must be reviewed and redesigned as needed before implementing the chosen CRM system.
How particular processes impact, interact, and integrate with other departments and offices is critical. Failure to have the framework for business processes re-engineered and the related personnel finalized and documented could possibly delay the progress of a CRM implementation. It is very challenging for users across multiple departments to absorb changes to their roles and processes while also attempting to learn and be trained on a new CRM system, or any system, for that matter. In such a case, user adoption rates could suffer.
On the other hand, if users and teams have already engaged in business process discussions prior to discovery, requirements gathering, and training sessions, they will be more confident and comfortable in their defined role. Thus, they will be more inclined to share their needs and more receptive to learning the new system, for they desire to attain more efficiencies and make their job easier. Moreover, upon witnessing how the intuitive, flexible, and extensible CRM interface can facilitate or even possibly automate a particular recently refined core business process, users will often be very eager to start using the system as soon as possible.
Over the course of a CRM implementation, it will definitely become evident to users that its robust and scalable platform can be customized and configured to support and improve the delivery of unique business processes and align with the strategic business goals of departments, management, and C-level execs. Having a CRM strategy and its supporting core business processes clearly formulated and widely communicated early on will definitely lay the foundation for a successful CRM deployment, “fast follower” releases, and lead to higher user adoption.