Last week we said you need to address a number of business issues when you are implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system. We also emphasised that these issues can make the difference between your success and failure. We discussed two such issues last week. Today we discuss the rest.
(3) Determining where your system resides
This business issue relates to whether you build and/or maintain your CRM system and related capabilities internally or outsource. There are some arguments for outsourcing CRM because managing customer relationships can consume a lot of time, money and energy. Does this benefit of possible savings weigh up against potentially losing control over the conversations with your customers by an agency to do it for you?
The answer depends on elements such as the type of CRM-related activities you wish to realize, your industry, the size of your company and whether you are more focussed on personal relationships (for instance in business-to-business (B2B)) or on brand-related communication. The issue is not whether outsourcing or not but outsourcing what exactly? And there are various criteria to answer that question: What are the benefits our customers need most? How are we going to achieve these requirements? What are the risks and benefits and maybe most of all, what is the return on investment (ROI) in the short run, as well as long run?
A further number of factors is there to consider in making the decision:
Solution scope.Your CRM solution could be as narrow as an outbound e-mail capability, or it could be as broad as a multichannel integrated sales, service and marketing capability that may actually involve many components – in general, the broader the scope of the solution, the greater the value of insourcing.
Core competencies. The further your organisation might be from truly becoming customer-focused, the less the probability of CRM systems development and support being high on your priority list. Therefore, outsourcing may be an option.
Time horizons. If you are looking for short-term capabilities due to budgets or other factors, outsourcing can prove to be an efficient means of getting started.
IT resources. Your company may lack internal technology resources or do not have adequate experience in managing customer information. In such a situation, outsourcing may be appropriate. Insourcing could be brought in-house at some point in the future, provided that resources become available.These are just a few factors that may impact your decision whether to outsource or not.
(4) Understanding data quality
This is another business confronted in CRM implementation. Data is an absolute critical element of your CRM success. There is a wide range of measures of data quality; the measures you use depend largely on your business applications and related degree of data relevance. Just some of the key data quality measures that you should be monitoring include:
Data coverage. Coverage refers to the degree to which a particular data field is populated. For example, customers’ birth dates would seem on the surface to be a valuable attribute but if you find that this information has only found 5 percent of the customer base, its contribution to customer intelligence is greatly diminished.
Data accuracy. Coverage alone provides little value. You need to continue to monitor the degree to which your data actually represents reality. Faulty data collection and the inaccuracies introduced as data ages are just two of the challenges to accurate data.
Data precision. Precision refers to the specificity of the data point. Pinpointing, for instance, that someone’s age is 50 can be a great deal more valuable than knowing that individuals are between the ages of 45 and 60.
Data relevance. You may collect and maintain data that has no value to your CRM efforts. Remember that the objective isn’t to gather data for the sake of data, but to build information about the customer. Concentrate on those data points that give you the greatest, most useful insights.
Making data accessible
The modern thinking is to empower users with direct access to customer information. What we have learned from this is a big caveat- direct access to data is fine, as long as the data is in the most practical possible format for specific user applications.
Providing an indicator of customer value to customer service representatives is a wonderful idea, but if accessing this data slows down, the transactions and actually lessens the customer’s service experience, this lack of accessibility slows this wonderful idea to a halt.
Building a practical solution involves providing the right information to the right users at the right time, in the right context.
(5) Gaining user acceptance
Another big issue facing companies that deploy a new CRM system is user acceptance. Over the years the CRM industry has gained lots of wisdom about user acceptance but it is surprising to see how many companies struggle to get their users to buy in and actually
Here are the top reasons why.
Lack of executive buy-in
It was the CEO, senior managers and executive directors of the company who came up with the idea to deploy CRM in the first place, but if these people are not keenly involved in the deployment, naturally, the project will eventually fail. There the top echelon should find out why it is so and workout the ways to correct the situation.
The system is not designed with users in mind
Managers are typically the decision-makers when it comes to system selection and customization. But the real users of the system are the sales representatives and customer support staff who must enter and manage information. Often little or no thought is given to the needs of these users and the system deployed often does not meet their needs. Naturally, the project will fail. We must remember that ultimately, a CRM system should make every user more productive. But all too often the new system is perceived (correctly or incorrectly) as additional work for already busy employees.
Lack of training and orientation
We have learned over the years that there is no such thing as too much training. Training increases comfort with the system, allows users to become more efficient and overcomes reluctance to change. But only few companies invest adequately in training. If your company belongs to this category, check why this is the case and what can be done to make training more effective and economical.
Managers are not ‘living in the system’
When managers do not rely on the information in a CRM system as the ‘gold standard’ for decision-making in the organisation, how can they expect end users to take the system seriously? By conducting the daily operations of the organisation through the CRM system, user acceptance is reinforced, data quality improves and decision-making becomes more efficient and accurate. We call that ‘living in the system’.
System use is not aligned with employee compensation
One of the easiest ways to get employees to use a CRM system is to tie system use to their compensation plan. You need to dig into this technique and find some ways on how to make it work.
Poor data quality
At the end of the day, any CRM system is only as good as the data in it. During deployment, many companies migrate legacy databases from multiple sources, create large amounts of duplicate data and don’t take the time to ‘scrub’ those data.
(Lionel Wijesiri, a corporate director with over 25 years’ senior managerial experience, can be contacted at