In today’s era, organizations try to be more and more customer centric; knowing your customers well and giving them personal experience is the mantra to succeed.
Most of the organization leaders acknowledge the role of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution for their organization’s ultimate success. However it cannot be assumed that the software itself will do wonders and give magical results to the organizations. The CRM solution must be implemented correctly and used properly to get desired results. Below steps help organizations to achieve successful CRM implementation:
Define the vision
CRM implementations should begin with a vision of where organization wants to be as a result of the initiative. Then identify measurable goals which are time bound and support the vision. Goals could be different for different groups; therefore it is important to prioritize, which would make it easier to decide what to put off if necessary.
Having a member of the senior management who could work as CRM champion is essential for the success of the project. Responsibilities of the project champion would include:
• Bringing clarity of vision, importance and alignment between business strategy and CRM software
• Getting project funding, change orders and other resources
• Engaging in the implementation process, maintain course corrections and reward success
Choose right product
There are many solutions available in the market with differences in features, deployment models, flexibility, scalability, integration capability and cost. Organizations must choose the one which is the best fit with its people, processes and existing systems. The points enlisted below could be the key differentiation factors:
• Deployment model (Online versus On premise): While online or SAAS systems are faster to deploy and seek lower initial investment, on premise systems are more flexible in terms of integration and give lower cost of ownership over long term.
• Integration capability: Return on CRM investment can be increased by integrating it with other systems in the organization. Integrations reduce dependencies, make data flow faster and provide more collaborative reporting to management.
• Vertical Solution: CRM is more of a business solution with direct impact on organization’s topline. Vertical CRM solutions have higher success ratio for implementation with lesser time to implement and train people.
• Flexibility: No CRM solution is a direct fit with any organization’s processes. The CRM solution should be flexible enough to accommodate changes as per organization’s needs.
A CRM implementation is as successful as much it is used in the organization. Usually it takes 60-90 days for CRM users to become comfortable with the solution. During this time negative feedback could spread from different user groups. Best practices engage user groups across sales, marketing and customer service throughout implementation, users contribute in:
• Gathering solution requirements, prioritizing and comparing CRM software systems
• Design of user interface, including both structure and navigation sequences
• User acceptance testing
• Preparation of training materials
While change management can be a part of user adoption strategy, it is an extensive subject and should be planned wisely in the organization. Post implementation, best practices involve assigning a business owner to a Change Agent role. This person’s responsibility would be to communicate and demonstrate users on how each element of the CRM implementation would benefit them individually and the organization as a whole.