How can you develop a CRM strategy?


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Back in 2001, Gartner captured the sorry state of CRM implementations in a headline-grabbing piece of research. Allegedly, the research reported that 50% of CRM programmes were failing to meet business expectations. It warned the businesses of an excessive emphasis on technology at the expense of low strategic direction as the main reason behind CRM failure.

Yet by the end of the decade, nothing changed. A Forrester study in 2009 reported a 47% failure rate among CRM strategies. And again, the main culprit was software dictating the strategy, and not the other way around.

Fast forward to 2014 – The CRM industry has changed dramatically in the last four years. Thanks to the popularity of the Software-as-a-Service concept, CRM adoption has gone up. But then have the present buyers learnt the lessons of the past?

In reference to this context, let’s read what Andrew Brittain, MD of digital agency Advantec has stated –

‘A CRM system is an important tool for building customer loyalty and retention. However, one common trap that organizations fall into is to see CRM as a standalone tactic, and not as a strategic function. If you have a CRM system which is not yielding the expected results, then it may be due to the absence of a strategic plan, or because it is not in line with the business goals.”

Foundation of the CRM strategy

Developing a CRM strategy is no mean feat, considering the scale of the exercise.

Annette Giardina, CRM UK lead at Avanade UK, has summarized the following steps to lay the foundation of the CRM strategy:

· Identify the issues and challenges that you currently face in customer interaction. Consider questions such as –

o Does your team have the information readily available to respond to customer queries?

o Can you provide a seamless customer experience regardless of the channel?

o Are you interacting with customers on repetitive manual tasks?

· Observe your customer journeys i.e. how your customer interacts with your business. Whether it is through purchasing a product or reporting an issue? Align your internal business processes with these journeys to help determine if you are easy or hard to do business with.

· · Identify what your KPIs will be. Once you have identified them, measure your current state of play to have a comparison point.

· Ensure that your data management is in good shape. With customer data a critically important part of any CRM project, you need to focus on data management before building CRM strategy.

Creating the CRM strategy

Following the above-mentioned preparatory steps will give your organization a good platform to build a CRM strategy. It will determine your CRM maturity, highlighting how much and what type of work is required to be completed to achieve an effective CRM strategy.

John Everhard, technical director at Pegasystems, recommends crafting the CRM strategy considering a few factors:

· Clear vision of what good CRM looks like across the organization

· Cultural readiness of the organization to adopt a customer-centric approach

· Clearly documented customer journeys

· Communication plans for sharing the progress charts that show what has been implemented and where

· Education program for the entire staff, including third-parties who in anyway interact with the organization’s customers.

· A feedback loop that allows everyone to point out the implementation or execution problems

· Measures to show everyone the value of adopting and applying the strategic initiatives.

CRM checklist

Before the business begins the process of looking at appropriate software solutions, Matthew Walko, head of strategy at Omobono, summarizes the strategic priorities to consider in relation to the CRM:

· What are the key objectives of the CRM programme? What is the ultimate mission of the brand and its relationship with customers and prospects?

· Execute a customer research to analyze their needs throughout the purchase journey and after. Identify gaps and set priorities

· Show examples of customers’ interactions. This will help determine when, how, and what the CRM system should provide

· Develop a content strategy to determine the tone and cadence of the relationships with contacts

· Interview end users to determine the most important features and user cases required for the CRM. This will help select and build a CRM system that meets the most important requirements

· Research and choose the best CRM application development company that most thoroughly meets the objectives, customer needs, feature requirements and budget model

· Invest in one-to-one or group training, to establish adoption and unfasten the value of the system amongst employees.

Finally, once the CRM solution is chosen and integrated, the strategy should ensure that there are processes to monitor measure and improve CRM.

In the words of Silcox – “Once your programme is up and running – the real hard work begins! You must continuously listen, measure and improve – to make the CRM more effective.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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