Expertise Beyond the Numbers

Optimizing Performance with a CRM Evolution, Not Revolution (Pt. 1) [Blog Post]

In the following blog post, SC&H Group’s Microsoft Dynamics Consulting Services team explores typical pitfalls in today’s CRM implementations, as well as an alternate, more strategic approach to achieving true CRM success.  

It is common for organizations to view CRM implementation as a straightforward, one-time event, complete with a start date, end date, and all available features included up front.

Unfortunately, this type of thinking has several faults, often preventing full or even moderate CRM success. In fact, despite improvements in CRM software, more than 63 percent of today’s CRM initiatives still fail, according to a recent Merkle Group study.

Applying the 80/20 Rule

Among the most significant faults of this thinking is its focus on the system—rather than on the organization becoming more customer centric.

If you apply the 80/20 rule to a successful CRM initiative, the system would be the 20, and the strategy/philosophy would be the 80. So, instead of concentrating on what features to incorporate, it is more important to understand why you need those features and what you hope to achieve with them.

The system is important, but only in that it is the tool used to support your CRM strategy. Being successful with a CRM program and strategy relies on numerous factors, many which have little or nothing to do with the CRM system. As a result, becoming truly customer centric usually involves a larger cultural shift, and those don’t happen overnight.

Reigning in the Features

Another common mistake is trying to incorporate every possible feature into every CRM implementation, migration, and upgrade project.

Chances are that staff members don’t know what their exact requirements are or what features they need until they start using the system. Also, requirements change over time, even during implementation. If you try to incorporate everything at once, you will likely waste a lot of time, money, and value building functionality that will never be used.

In addition, implementations are often so problematic that the staff gives up on using the CRM system for anything except the most basic contact management functions. A better approach is to include the critical functionality you need right now, then strategically and incrementally add functionality over time.

Embracing the Strategic Approach

Any good CRM strategy should start with a vision or well-defined set of goals. For example,

ABC Company will optimize their customer experiences and increase their revenue and profitability by:

  • Developing a culture where every employee instinctively thinks about how their actions affect the customer and seeks to always exceed expectations.
  • Having a single, detailed, shared record for each customer with information from all sources required to provide service.
  • Automating and optimizing sales and customer service processes.
  • Providing staff both in and out of the office with easy and efficient access to customer information.
  • Maintaining clean, accurate customer data without duplicates or stale information.
  • Providing staff with reports and analytics tools to understand trends and use information to proactively plan and drive sales, service, and marketing functions.

Now that is a big, bold vision.

For most organizations, the timeline for reaching these goals should be measured in years rather than weeks or months. After all, you have to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run, so a well-thought-out plan should be developed that incorporates steps and milestones along the way.

What steps are critical to a successful implementation? Stay tuned, as we will explore this and other key CRM issues in part two of this blog series.

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