Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Big Frustration of CRM

Applying the ‘Keep it Simple’ philosophy in CRM Implementation.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a journey involving many aspects, not just technology. The vision has to be clear, processes and people's expectations have to be modified to achieve success. What are your main frustrations about CRM, Data Quality, Data Extraction, Data Visualization?

Before companies implement CRM system, they really ought to trial it and get feedback from end users. Communicating and demonstrating ways to make their jobs easier is also crucial. Customers are people with whom businesses have a relationship, and there are ups and downs in every relationship. But CRM information is often looked at as the accelerator pedal for increased revenues (hence the frustration of the audience), but it’s not. However you can configure the CRM processes to be aligned to the corporate strategy, which is really the asset that makes the difference.

Applying the KISS –‘Keep it Simple’ philosophy will contribute to a better return on CRM investment and reduce the risk of CRM trying to be too ambitious. By trying to do too much for too many people, you run the gauntlet of failing all of them, and there are many examples of failed CRM. Keeping the CRM system simple is also the best adage for performance and utilization. By promoting the role of the CRM as a source of truth for all customer-centric information, the whole organization can respond consistently to the most important person...the customer. This also means that the organization has to embrace "truth in reporting"...so sales managers have to reward candor and not only reward "good news".

The biggest issue with CRM is accountability. All too often companies take a top down approach and don't take any feedback from the end users into account. Invariably the adoption is nonexistent and so the companies implement penalties for not imputing data into the CRM including withholding commissions. Finding the right  balance and alignment between the Effort and the Reward is tricky, but it can be done and it is essential to adoption... Think about alternatives to reduce/minimize the effort side of the equation. If management provides negative consequences for non compliance and positive reinforcement for compliance on the data entry side, it can be a very useful tool.

Data quality and extraction become issues when a few process things occur. Either the customers add cost and complexity to the sales process without adding incremental revenue, or the cost of sales is being swollen from internal/industry pressures, for those organizations, CRM is a bigger contributor to overhead than it is to revenue and profits. And for those of businesses that have data issues, these feed into Data Visualization being an issue - not because reporting is poor, but because people are (naturally or from work pressure) ambitious when numbers are put in front of them. The CRM issues you meet will also depend on the  characteristic of your organization. If your company is driven by a sales team, then data quality will always be an issue, it’s just part of the business model. If your company is customer activity driven, then data extraction will be your issue - as you probably stuck with the perennial problem of "all customers are different" and "historic data never fully reflects futures". If your company is driven by a distribution or reseller channel, then you have both data extraction and data quality issues.

Do not put too much business logic into a CRM application that isn't really designed to maintain business rules. Rather, think of CRM as a repository for "mass customization". This is the right way to use CRM, they are superior tools for managing business processes and business rules. Trying in vain to fit everything into a mainstream CRM system adds risk. Just because it’s got those bells and whistles doesn't mean you have to use them...overly complex screens and reports take away the simplicity.


I have designed this questionnaire in a view to help you better understand and define your high level requirements for Salesforce CRM Customization.

Informative article. Helped a lot as I used it to train the students in my Salesforce training institute in Chennai for. Thank you, keep writing.


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