CRM projects have the image of price-intensive and cumbersome investments. Touted beforehand as a technological saviour, the bottom line is that in many companies they turn out to be unprofitable. But why do CRM projects fail in practice and how can CRM be successfully implemented?
Technology alone cannot solve business problems. Unfortunately, the assumption is widespread that with the introduction of CRM software, a company automatically acts customer-oriented. The CRM solution, however, creates the technical prerequisites for customer-oriented work: Sales, marketing and service can work more effectively because documents, metrics, planning tools and other relevant customer data are available with fewer clicks. However, a CRM solution can only unfold its full power by means of a corporate culture that is open to customer orientation and, consequently, also willing to change processes that have so far stood in the way of this.
After initial euphoria in the company, there is quickly a danger that CRM software will only be perceived as a control instrument for monitoring employees and, in the worst case, will only be used for this purpose – including frustration of employees and a rapidly solidifying antipathy towards CRM. This is often the result of lacking goal definitions, too narrow visions and missing, measurable success criteria. Increasing sales cannot be the sole goal of a CRM strategy.
Rather, more meaningful success indicators are the increase in sales in the context of a realistic growth plan, concrete metrics such as the number and quality of new leads, precise knowledge of customer requirements, profit-loss analyses to identify recurring patterns of won and lost offers, identification of new target groups, multipliers or up-selling opportunities. The use of CRM software can reduce process costs for customer support and acquisition in the long term and at the same time build up valuable knowledge about the customer. With this customer knowledge, it is possible to react much more precisely to customer wishes in order to sustainably increase customer satisfaction. Examples are the proactive approach in sales based on previous purchasing behavior, a specific approach in marketing campaigns and individualized service support for key customers.
It is almost impossible to successfully implement a CRM solution without integrating your employees into the planning and implementation phases. If the different needs of the specialist departments are listened to and served during implementation, real added value is guaranteed in CRM usage. However, clear rules are needed to ensure that the CRM project does not run the risk of sinking halfway or not being rolled out in the final stages. This includes clarified responsibilities and the (partial) release of personnel resources. Equally important is the full backing of a project sponsor at management level. Without a boss who drives the project, monitors the project status and occasionally scrutinizes planned functionalities, it just doesn’t work.
Analyze the weaknesses in customer orientation and customer loyalty in your company. What do your competitors do better than you? How can you play to your strengths? Define concrete goals, key performance indicators and a realistic growth plan. Then think about how CRM software can help you achieve these goals and which processes need to be created or changed in your organization. CRM can and is more than just monitoring sales. Be open to new processes that can be supported by modern technology (e.g. mobile CRM for field service, interactive resource planning for service teams, response analysis in marketing, system-supported offer configuration, etc.). Don’t forget your employees: Get to the heart of the specific added value of CRM for the respective departments (keyword: the “what’s in for me?” factor). Be sure to involve your employees in the planning and implementation phase. After all, they will be working with the system on a daily basis.