CRM’s Hard Lessons and New Best Practices

by Jim Berkowitz on August 12, 2010

Here are several excerpts from an article from Baseline Consulting’s Jill Dyche, CRM’s Hard Lessons.  Be sure to check out @jilldyche ‘s complete source article for more on each of five best practice habits of savvy business owners of customer-focused programs:

When I wrote The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to CRM in 2002, companies were spending tens of millions of dollars on CRM software, but industry analysts were predicting that 80 percent of CRM projects would fail.

The mistakes and pitfalls of CRM’s early days are now legendary. Companies rushed to embrace CRM technologies, only to discover that automation couldn’t fix broken business processes, absent strategies or bad data.

Consultants keen on helping beleaguered companies get back on track proselytized the importance of change management to CRM initiatives, but that didn’t stick. As executives continued to aim their silver-bullet technologies toward the customer experience, they remained mired in incumbent business processes and traditional success metrics.

Everyone wanted to participate in vendor evaluation, but no one wanted to own the streamlining of order-to-cash processes or new measurements for customer satisfaction. Despite millions of dollars spent on CRM technologies, it really was business as usual.

Most executives now admit that they were ill-equipped to launch their CRM efforts. Hopes for automating customer-facing business processes and achieving the celebrated “single view of the customer” were dashed as sales, marketing and customer service executives came to terms with the fact that CRM was more than just a technology solution.

New Best Practices

Today, however, new corporate strategies are resuscitating the need for deliberate and sustained customer management. Is your company ready for the next wave of CRM?

Smart executives are heeding the lessons of firms that have gone before them. They’re aligning CRM efforts to corporate strategies and forgoing technology investments until their road maps are in place. They’re forging partnerships with consulting firms that have structured delivery approaches. They’re being deliberate about incremental deployment, and are keeping the customer top-of-mind every step of the way.

Here are five habits followed by savvy business owners of customer-focused programs:

1. Don’t call it “CRM.” The term is fraught with baggage. Customer initiatives are now business-owned and branded.
2. Remember your business model.
3. Keep social media in perspective.
4. Consider the cloud.
5. Don’t forget about the data.


Hugh Macken August 13, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I agree there’s no point in calling it CRM. Most of us agree the customer has more leverage / more of a voice than ever before. Should CRM systems perhaps do a better job of allowing businesses and their customers \"co-manage\" the relationship? I don\’t know specifically what that would look like but I mean that\’s what\’s actually happening online anyway. No? Should CRM systems reflect that trend and be designed to encourage it rather than put the management control in the hands of the business?

Matt at Intelestream November 24, 2010 at 7:00 am

It’s never been a better time to take another look at CRM solutions. History has taught us many things, and businesses are in a good spot to cherry pick what they hope to accomplish with their existing customers, as well as with their hopes for new ones. These days, we can’t talk about customers without mentioning social media. While relatively new, companies can also apply lessons-learned from traditional CRMs to today’s social CRM solutions. Focusing on a new kind of customer (one more in control), making the necessary and ample preparation time, sticking to your business model, the cloud, and the data: are all very important reminders for both CRM and social CRM.

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