Operational CRM – the CRM Manager


Share on LinkedIn

Although I realise that starting this entry with a statement that CRM professionals take for granted or even find boring these days is a big risk, I will do it anyway: “CRM is the driver for business performance if understood correctly”. Now why do I bring this up again: Because I think that everyone agrees on this statement but very few really act on it.

Ultimately the ones who suffer from this good intention but poor execution of CRM in companies are the customers: Their enquiries and complaints are not dealt with in the most effective way, they receive promotions that are not fulfilling their needs and certainly their expectations are not understood and therefore not met. But in this blog I am not playing the role of advocate of the external customers……

Even before the external customers suffer, it’s the Customer facing staff members who are affected, and overseeing all of this an even more difficult position: the CRM Manager. In the majority of the occasions where a CRM manager is in place, there is very little to manage: they up running around chasing information, getting departments to talk to each other, co-ordinating brand/sales and after-sales activities that they had no say in when implemented. Not much of a “management” role, it seems more like a fire fighter.

Those companies that have appointed a CRM Manager as part of implementing a CRM strategy have taken a big step by doing this, especially if this is an internally trained person. But most of the time the CRM Managers role lacks mandates and power: For every decision on process or policy changes the CRM Manager would propose, often she/he needs to consult with the Marketing Manger, the Sales Manager, The After-sales manager and probably also the ICT manager first. Of course, all those people should be involved, but to what extend?!

Now this is where the frustration of most CRM Mangers lies: They know best about lead and customer care, are very passionate about it but the rest of the organisation is not ready to deal with handing over responsibilities and power to the CRM manager so the CRM strategy can actually be executed.

I am contemplating two possible solutions:

1)Appoint a dedicated CRM Manager and make sure she/he is empowered. That means that:
a. A Product Managers role does really not go any further that the name suggests: the product: Design, Strategy, Pricing, Communication Channels, Design of Promotions and Campaigns. What powers should the Brand manager hand over to the CRM Manager: Segmentation and Execution of Campaigns.
b. A Sales Manager should define a lead management strategy, set sales targets, motivate sales staff and design sales tools for customer facing staff. This role normally does not need to hand over “power” to the CRM Manager, but keep her/him continuously involved in trends and actions.
c. An After-Sales Managers is, like the Product Manager, bound to share or hand over power to/with the CRM Manager: Customer care solution decisions, processes design and even goodwill budgets.

If this is not possible within an organisation because the culture is not ready for it, then I would go for this option:

2)Do not appoint a dedicated CRM Manager but make CRM the responsibility of the Marketing Director, who oversees all the above mentioned roles anyway. That ensures that CRM is directly sitting underneath the Management Board. Power struggles can be avoided.
This second option is not a bad choice at all: it forces the Marketing Director to be closer to operations, and make her/his job more hands on.

Either choice seems a good one. CRM sits where it belongs: A high level, dedicated person who is passionate about meeting customers’ expectations and internal efficiency.

I am not forgetting ICT. I believe that the ICT department is crucial in the CRM strategy’s success, and should support CRM policies with the best possible technology. But implementing a CRM processes is a business task. IT should play a highly supporting and advising role here.

So to come back to my statement at the beginning of this article: “CRM is the driver for business performance if understood correctly” and therefore Human Resources are key. The organisation should be reviewed when implementing a CRM strategy, instead of applying a new strategy on top of an existing organisation without reviewing roles and responsibilities.

Any thoughts, alternatives or success stories on the role of the CRM Manager?

Thank you very much, Monique


  1. Hi Monique,

    Thanks for sharing your observations about the quandaries of CRM and CEM in reality. I agree that the company culture is the starting point for getting CRM and CEM right. If it is not customer-centric, then there will always be a great deal of fire-fighting rather than management. The person with ultimate responsibility and management of CRM should be at a place within the company where he/she can proactively coordinate with the various functional areas and create common vision, metrics, and solutions without silo boundaries.


    Lynn Hunsaker helps companies improve customer data ROI, customer-centricity and customer experience innovation. She is author of 3 handbooks. See ClearAction.biz, Twitter.com/ClearAction, Facebook.dj/customerexperience.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here