One of the recurring questions I get from customers and prospects all over the world is, what is the secret to a successful CRM implementation? My answer resonates with companies large and small, here in North America, in Europe and in Asia. The secret to a successful CRM implementation is process, process, process.
A CRM system is not a stand-alone solution that magically gives you a better insight into your customers and delivers customer loyalty. CRM should be the fourth step in an up-front business planning process that first addresses business goals, processes, and people.
A business must establish clear goals and objectives, identify the processes that need to be in place to achieve those goals, and implement the communication and training required for employees to act in support of the desired objectives. Completing these tasks—which are potentially challenging and time-consuming—is a key success factor to ensure a successful CRM implementation.
Once business goals, processes, and people are in place, companies need to ensure that they select the right technology to enable their people to support the desired business processes. A company should not have to change business processes to accommodate technology, but should instead select a flexible, intuitive, and open CRM solution that supports both current and future business processes.
Understanding Your CRM Users And Their Needs
It is important to understand that there are two very different groups of CRM users in a company. The first group consists of customer-facing employees who use the CRM system to manage their daily customer interactions. The second group is the management team, who use the CRM system to report on past and future company performance.
Customer-facing employees should spend their time with customers, not entering data into the CRM system. For the front-line staff, flexibility and ease of use are critical. A flexible CRM system allows each employee to tailor the interface to work they way they work. An intuitive CRM system reduces barriers to adoption. A CRM system should simplify and automate repetitive tasks for employees, but many CRM implementations fail because they actually add complexity.
Management needs to be able to get business metrics from the CRM system, so flexibility and openness are critical requirements. Can the CRM system adapt to the unique processes of the company? Can the CRM system integrate with other software applications such as billing and order management systems?
So this leads us back to the process companies should go through before selecting a CRM system. Business goals, internal processes, and employee training need to be considered prior to CRM design and implementation. A good understanding of sales, marketing, and customer support processes will allow the company to configure the CRM user interface so that employees can focus on customers and not get lost in a data maze. A good understanding of overall business goals during the design and implementation process will ensure that management can measure, track, and report on the key metrics they need to understand past and future company performance, allowing them to make the right decisions to grow the company.
Employees should be aware of company goals and be trained on the necessary procedures to meet these goals. The CRM system should mirror these procedures so that system training becomes reinforcement of established processes, not technical training on a CRM system.
A great way to introduce CRM in any company, large or small, is to involve key employees from the earliest planning stages. When employees understand the capabilities of the system, how it follows existing processes, how they will interact with it and how it automates and simplifies repetitive tasks, they can not only socialize the implementation with their teams, but they can make valuable contributions regarding the processes and desired functionality of the CRM system.
So here it is…The Secret To YOUR Success.