Process-Oriented CRM Isn't for Everyone

Ann All

Back in September, I wrote about the growing recognition that even the best CRM technologymay not be worth much if it isn't part of a larger process-improvement effort.

Here's a post from The CRM Consultant blog in which Richard Boardmanillustrates this point with several examples whereby companies (not clear whether they are hypothetical or real world) use CRM to improve sales-conversion rates, increase customer satisfaction, reduce the volume of help-desk calls, boost compliance rates, and keep staffs lean and mean.

Embedding processes in a CRM system where they can be more effectively monitored and managed can help companies achieve the above, and likely more. However, writes Boardman, it won't be easy. Doing so requires five major steps:

  • You must thoroughly review existing processes and identify areas for improvement.
  • You might need to tweak CRM systems to support unique processes. (As a surprising number of them might be.)
  • All employees should use the system in a structured and consistent way. (Which is why training is so important, as I mentioned in another post with more good advice from Boardman.)
  • You may have to develop a custom reporting tool or tools, since those included with off-the-shelf software might not reflect the way your company conducts business.
  • Build flexibility into the system, so it can accommodate the inevitable process changes that will occur over time.

A process-oriented approach to CRM isn't for everyone, notes Boardman. He writes:

The potential benefits of doing it are huge, but there's an overhead as well. For organizations that are rapidly changing, and/or don't feel they can persuade their employees to consistently use a system, this is not a good approach. The key is to know what camp you are in. It's a lot better to recognize up front that it's not in your DNA to use CRM technology in this way, than spend a lot of time and money proving it.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 19, 2008 6:56 AM Jacob Ukelson Jacob Ukelson  says:
Using an iterative approach to introducing CRM (or trying to formalize any type of business process) is a good way to start, allowing both the company and users to get used to a more formal way of handling the existing CRM business processes, and then using the formalization and understanding to start designing and implementing new, improved business processes over time - and to continually upgrade existing processes.At ActionBase ( we advocate using the existing process (which are usually a set of tacit interactions involving meetings, emails and documents) as the basis of creating a more managable, auditable process. This allows users to remain in a familiar environment (i.e. email), while starting to formalize a process. Doing it this way also allows you to get a handle on the current processes - and especially all of the "exceptions" handled by the current process.The next step is to start improving the processes based on the learning that went on, optimizing existing processes and creating new ones.The key to be able to do things this way is having a tool that allows for this type of iterative process (email based, easy to understand, easy to modify without IT involvement). Reply
Nov 27, 2008 1:27 AM Richard Boardman Richard Boardman  says:
Ann, just to confirm, they are real world examples.RegardsRichard (The CRM Consultant) Reply

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