Poor Process Brings CRM Pain, Experts Warn

Ann All

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.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 17, 2007 9:01 AM Michael Topalovich Michael Topalovich  says:
I believe that the conclusion that processes must be thoroughly analyzed prior to jumping headlong into CRM is spot on. To take the idea a step further, it is imperative to understand how your business or a specific process within your business applies and organizes work to create value on an end-to-end basis before bringing any enterprise technology into the picture. To paraphrase something Bill Gates once said, technology that is applied to an efficient operation will magnify that efficiency; technology applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.I worked for Siebel Systems for 6 years prior to the Oracle acquisition, and one of the most interesting patterns that I observed was that when a customer failed to implement or integrate Siebel, they blamed it on the software; when a customer was successful in their implementation, they credited their business processes (although the glowing joint press releases would of course credit the software).Michael TopalovichThe Mikan Group, LLChttp://www.mikangroup.com Reply
Aug 22, 2007 8:56 AM Francis Carden Francis Carden  says:
A large problem today us that we are so far into this we have got to find a way out, and fast. A rapid way to solve inefficient business problems, through integration and automation, around what we already have is needed to stay competitive. Hopefully, lessons have been learnt but for now, lets fix what we have - RIGHT NOW. There are products out there that can quickly fix broken / manual processes and that offer huge ROI's by doing so without major new investment. Waiting 5 more years for the next big thing just won't cut it for business.Francis CardenOpenSpan Inc.,www.openspan.comhttp://franciscarden.blogspot.com Reply
Aug 23, 2007 5:11 PM Alan Snow Alan Snow  says:
Implementing CRM software without first quantifying and eliminating the root causes of data and information quality is futile: all that happens is that your knowledge-workers will receive unreliable information faster and will be able to generate a wider range of pretty-looking graphs and charts which will still contain unreliable - and in some cases - downright dangerous 'information'. I have worked on many CRM implementations and know that the pressure to finish on time and in budget usually results in a system of low quality data and therefore limited value. The message should be clear: don't implement any sophisticated business solutions until the fundamental step of data and information quality management has been mastered. Reply
Aug 29, 2007 10:08 AM Rafa Aleryani Rafa Aleryani  says:
Iame manEmail:rfwaay@hotmail.comEmail:rfway_rfway@hotmail.com Reply
Oct 8, 2007 2:46 PM Rafa Rafa  says:
Email:rfwaay@hotmail.comrfway@hotmail.comName:Rafa Ahmad Mohammed alaryaniAge:1-1-1974(33) Reply
Dec 13, 2007 7:27 PM David Panitch David Panitch  says:
We've seen too many organizations that are attempting to implement CRM focus exclusively on the technology. Those of us that have been involved with successful CRM technology implementations know that the technology is just the enabler, not the solution.At Results Technology Group, we insist on a 4-step approach that begins with strategy development, process review and development, technology implementation, and continuous improvement. This has helped our clients have a significantly higher than usual success rate in their CRM initiatives. They don't just look at the initiative as technology, they approach it from a holistic perspective. This helps them better understand that there is more to CRM than just the technology. Reply

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