Six Steps to Long-Term CRM Value

Choose a CRM Solution That is Easy to Use

Analysts agree that user acceptance is the single most important success factor for a CRM application, so this should be top of mind when considering solutions.

A CRM solution should work in a way that is familiar to the users and is seen as a help not a hindrance to their jobs. Businesses have been conditioned to think that they must change the way they work or do business to fit the application. Many are left believing that customization is out of their reach or will actually jeopardize their returns.

However, times and technology have changed. Today, growing organizations should expect a CRM solution that fits their unique needs, that grows with their business and that is not only affordable, but delivers a quick return-on-investment (ROI).

One of the key aspects of a successful CRM Solution is the user interface; it must be intuitive. A self-explanatory and easy-to-use interface with familiar terminology is critical, and yet it is often overlooked. If your organization deploys an application to your sales, marketing and service professionals, and those users cannot quickly understand the application; they will give up on it or only use it minimally. And if they don’t use it, your organization will miss thousands of opportunities to improve business execution and knowledge building at critical customer touch points.

Choose a CRM Solution That is Easy to Integrate

Your CRM solution should work with the other critical systems your business uses. Consider the front- and back-end technologies that you presently have, as well as systems you plan to implement in the future. In addition, take into account the various departments or lines of business you will include long term as you seek to broadly expand the benefits of your solution.

It is not just about where your business is today but where it wants to be in the next few weeks, months and even, years. Your organization changes, your company challenges change, your customers’ needs change and your business priorities change. And you need a CRM system that will change with you and continue to enhance the way you do business rather than tie your hands and restrict your ability to grow. Your CRM solution should continue to provide you with the insight, metrics and dashboards you need to get you where you want to go—no matter which direction you turn to capture additional business opportunities.

Build the Right Team

All the best intentions and efforts in the world will not lead to CRM success unless there is a highly-skilled and experienced team involved. A CRM initiative can be complex, and your business needs a team that has in-depth CRM expertise and business knowledge as well as the creativity, focus, commitment and drive to meet the expectations of the project.

Anthone Withers, Avanade global CRM solutions director, is responsible for driving the CRM strategy, as well as developing vertical solutions and the creation of reusable assets. He has more than 10 years of experience in solutions marketing, strategy and product management. Before joining Avanade, Withers was at NCR Teradata as marketing director for Australia/New Zealand.