3 Steps To Successful CRM

Post date: Jun 26, 2012 10:11:34 AM

Regardless of your company's size and the requirements for your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution, the goal remains the same: learn more about your customers and leverage that knowledge into increased customer loyalty and improved sales.

However, too often companies jump into their CRM initiatives without the proper thought and planning. The result? A CRM system that does not meet critical organizational needs and fails to provide the proper insights into their customer base. Or perhaps worse--a CRM system that is not used at all. The key to success for your CRM implementation is not just the technology driving your solution, but in the strategy itself.

To achieve CRM success, there are 3 steps every company must follow before starting to consider CRM technology:

1. Establish a commitment to organizational change. If your company already understands why it is essential to improve customer loyalty and agrees that a CRM initiative is a high priority, congratulations! If not, you'll need to do the legwork necessary to achieve consensus with all teams. Don't be overwhelmed. Use this as an opportunity to put the pieces of your CRM puzzle together--discovering where customer touch points interact, what information is important to whom and why, and to identify what current business processes seem inefficient to those tasked with executing them. Once each team feels heard, and their grievances documented, they will likely agree that change is a good thing. Then you not only have much of the critical information you need for your next step, you also have the capital to return to these folks for their buy-off when your CRM strategy is completed. Your next step?

2. Define specific adjustments to operations. This seems like a tall order, but it is the logical next step towards building a solid strategy that your entire organization can get behind and evangelize. We suggest creating a matrix of all the problems identified in the first step and the solutions that were discussed. Use this matrix to compare the challenges across departments and identify potential operational changes that would solve these issues. Do not think about how technology can support these solutions, just concentrate on the operational changes necessary--who needs to know what and when, what workflow will share critical information between departments, and what critical customer-facing actions should occur at the completion of each task. TIP: The biggest factor to building a solid CRM strategy is developing a standardized sales process that is based on best practices, can be implemented across your sales organization, and integrates tightly with marketing and operations. Armed with this information, you are ready to:

3. Document your CRM Strategy. Your strategy should identify the specific business problems that need to be addressed (based on your information gathering and prioritization exercises from the first 2 steps), define objectives whose results can be measured (to demonstrate the ROI of your implementation), and outline solid insight into how CRM will impact the company, current operations, and your customers. To ensure organizational buy-off, boil down your CRM strategy into these critical points: How will CRM improve the lives of its users? How will it increase productivity? How will it impact sales? It is this strategy you then take back to the key stakeholders for final buy-off. It is this strategy that you will arm yourself with when researching and evaluating all possible CRM solutions available to you.

Understanding what business problems you need to solve and how they impact your operations--while demonstrating company support for this initiative--will ensure a successful implementation of your CRM solution. Not only will you better understand the trade-offs that you will need to make with the technology you choose, you will be able to better evaluate customization requirements and recommendations made by your CRM partner. The time you spend planning and documenting your strategy will be well worth the results!

Written by: Shannon Kavanaugh