For every customer eager to tell of their CRM success, there is another who will recount the horrors of a project that went horribly wrong or fizzled out.
Most organisations understand the benefits of CRM, and few do not stand to benefit from it.
Five years ago, I was writing about how to get CRM on the boardroom agenda. Today CRM is everywhere. In UK boardrooms, it is not uncommon for a CRM system to be purchased without further consultation, or as buy-in from the rest of the business.
This is often the first big mistake.
The best CRM projects, which have delivered a clear return on investment, were decided with the counsel and consensus of the organisation as a whole.
Those who do decide to invest in CRM should also remain engaged throughout the process. However, they often move on to the next meeting item.
It isn't just about rolling out technology, and there does need to be a degree of change management.
Simply providing people with a memo, login details and an alien user interface overnight and expecting them to start using it in the morning is unlikely to deliver the required results.
Customers and the technology provider must be prepared for a backlash. Some members of the team may be unwilling to admit they don't understand the new offering. There are also those who cannot be bothered, as well as a third group of staff who think they are God's gift to their particular role and consider themselves above instruction from anybody else in the business.
CRM systems survive on up-to-date information, so one of the biggest CRM killers is apathy. I have often heard people say that they will get the sales, but somebody else can sort the CRM out.
The trick is to make it simple. Even 40 per cent of activities recorded in an easy-to-use system will be far better than having nothing stored in a system that lies dormant.
Be clear about how the system should be used. If you can't explain clearly what you want, you are unlikely to get it.
For example, how many of us have received an invitation stipulating smart casual dress, only to fin the term means different things to different people? To some, smart casual is a pair of jeans or shorts and to somebody else it's an ironed shirt and chinos.
Help your customers not only invest in CRM but ensure it supports the needs of their businesses. That may mean providing them with the right training.
Matt Garman is group commercial director at DHC
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