Six Steps to Long-Term CRM Value

After wrestling with first–generation CRM solutions that were difficult to use, customize and integrate, businesses have learned the importance of flexibility and are developing CRM solutions that fit the way they do business. This helps them improve customer loyalty which ultimately drives profitability across the whole organization.

Flexibility in design along with best-practices in planning and a staged deployment ensures continual innovation and measurable returns. To build a stronger foundation for success, businesses should start by making technology investments that provide platforms for long-term innovation and also support the near-term business strategy and performance objectives.

Below are six practical steps you should consider to establish long-term CRM value:

Know What Your Organization Needs and When

Not all CRM solutions can support the business processes of every organization, so it is important to know how your organization wants to manage its customer relationships. Then find the solution that fits your business and meets your unique requirements.

Know how your organization works from top to bottom and what you want to achieve with a CRM solution. Take this holistic view of your business and determine the role your customers play within it. Then define the business problem and the desired benefits within this context. Create scenarios showing how the organization runs now and how it will run once the solution is implemented.

Once you can clearly articulate the big picture, break the project down into smaller steps with clear benefits at each stage and measure those benefits as you grow; you will begin to reap the benefits or your new CRM solution. Make sure to identify all of the points at which the solution will integrate with other front- and back-end systems, as well as with those suppliers and partners.

Secure Executive Support

A CRM strategy needs to be adopted, promoted and executed across the entire organization, and executive support is critical. Select an executive sponsor who is eager to lead the charge. This leader must be able to make the hard decisions that will be necessary along the way, unite the various teams and departments that will be affected, and ensure everyone clearly understands and cooperates.

It is also recommended that a company leading a successful CRM strategy form a governance team that includes both the business owners and the technical implementation team. This team would be tasked with working together to closely monitor project deliverables, remove all roadblocks and offer adequate support to everyone who is impacted.

Invest in a Robust CRM Solution

A robust CRM solution spans the entire enterprise and includes operational, analytical and collaborative aspects. Top-performing organizations address each of these three areas when looking to invest in CRM solutions:

Operational CRM builds rich information about every aspect of the customer, starting at a broad business level and, when appropriate, incorporating personal details, such as the contact’s birthday or special preferences. Operational CRM provides a “360-degree view” of the customer and includes the data necessary to make informed decisions that produce quantifiable results.

Analytical CRM includes data mining, which uncovers insights, trends and patterns about marketing, sales and service needs, and habits of customers. This information is invaluable in creating targeted campaigns, properly prioritizing sales leads, recognizing and acting on cross-selling opportunities, and optimizing sales and service processes.

Collaborative CRM connects the right information about the right customer at the right time for individuals and work teams across departments, divisions and the globe. Collaborative CRM offers the ability to reach out to customers and members of your organization through various touch points.

As businesses and individuals continue to adopt mobile technology that keeps them connected while away from the office, this is increasingly important. Essentially, collaborative CRM connects the final touch points between your customers and their experiences with your business.

Organizations, which previously focused only on operational or analytical aspects of CRM, discovered that their user experience was too cumbersome and failed to capture and organize the information in such a way that users could find what they needed, make better business decisions and drive results. In short, these partial solutions returned limited value to the organization over the long term.