Poor Process Brings CRM Pain, Experts Warn


So your CRM implementation hasn't turned out as planned? If you are looking for someone to blame, you might try gazing into a mirror.


Though he doesn't put it that bluntly, that's the message from Quocirca analyst Clive Longbottom, who apparently has spent lots of time trying to explain to end users that the best CRM technology won't do any good without solid underlying processes in place.


Noting that customer service is generally getting worse all the time, despite companies' investments in costly CRM systems, he writes in vnunet.com:

(Companies) have fallen into the trap of having thought that they have bought a solution, whereas what has really happened is that they have bought some technology. This technology may make things work faster -- but if the over-riding CRM processes are bad, all you will do is hack off customers more quickly than you were doing before -- and possibly more of them.

Several CRM vendors participating in a roundtable discussion with Call Center Magazine late last year echoed Longbottom's view, with an executive from FrontRange noting that many companies buy technology without first thinking through how it will be used. "A firm must spend the time to understand their customers and their wants and needs as part of developing a strategy to acquire and retain customers," he says.


Many supermarkets have neglected to do this, says IHL Consulting Group President Greg Buzek in a recent eWEEK article, and thus are not deriving any value from their customer loyalty programs.


Taking a hard look at processes be tricky, says Barton Goldenberg of ISM Inc., publisher of "The Guide to CRM Automation," since customer-facing roles tend to lack the kind of well-defined processes found in other areas of the business, such as finance. Sales people, especially, often balk at formal processes.


In an IT Business Edge interview, Increase Odds of User Buy-In with the 3x Factor, Goldenberg suggests:

If you ask sales people how to close an account, they will say there is no one right way and they don't want to be told how to do that. You have to make sure you work very closely with them, giving them information that will help them make a sale but not asking for too much rigidity because they need flexibility to make the sale.

Putting strategy and processes first will not only result in more effective CRM, it will also save companies money, says Jim Dickie of CSO Insights in an interview with IT Business Edge, The 'Vision Thing' Can Control CRM Costs. He advises:

Decide what you are really trying to accomplish with the system before you write or modify the first line of code. The companies that successfully implement CRM systems know what problems they are expecting these systems to solve. They have formal project plans and detailed functional specs, and they stick to those. If you go into a project without this defined vision, you can easily run into "scope creep," where you keep coming up with more and more things to add into the project -- which will blow out your budgets and destroy your time lines.