(This is the first of two related Posts discussing The Success of CRM.)
The other day I read yet another negative remark about CRM on Twitter. These are generally written by CRM vendors’ representatives or CRM consultants. Many times they’ll whine about the term, “Customer Relationship Management,” stating that it’s not customer-centric, it’s not about relationships, and one certainly can “manage” relationships with customers.
CRM Is Working In My Organization
My organization adopted CRM as its business strategy back in 2002. We made many mistakes in the beginning, but we worked through them. Today our CRM strategy is working and more importantly, it’s becoming more successful.
I’m a big fan of Bart Goldenberg who authored the book, CRM In Real Time. In it he states the successful “CRM mix” consists of 50% people, 30% process, and only 20% technology. If you’re having problems with CRM, odds are it’s not your software.
Several years ago my division merged with another to form a 650 employee organization. CRM literacy was better in one division than the other. We had user adopting/satisfaction issues as well as the need to increase the literacy level for all users.
We were helped by the fact that a year previously, our national organization had recommitted to CRM as a philosophy and specifically committed to the CRM software we were using. Like it or not, we were married to the software. There was no weaseling out. This simplified our world, so we begin to dig ourselves out of the hole we were in. (Goldenberg is a strong proponent of executive support.) Our senior managers reaffirmed their backing for the philosophy and the software.
Build Effective Relationships With Your End-Users
In my division we created an ad hoc interdepartmental “Software Feedback Team” to identify exactly what our employees’ needs were. We deployed an online survey, analyzed the responses and took action.
We also created a “CRM Council” composed of representatives from each department charged with furnishing the CRM Department with feedback and serving as a liaison to their own departments. (Again, Goldenberg points out the need for this.)
Our first steps was to revamp our training modules to zero in on issues that bedeviled employees the most (navigation, querying, etc.)
There were also quite a few misconceptions about the software including one urban myth that hour glassing was rampant after 2PM. We identified hardware issues that were slowing us down, everything from needing to upgrade servers to replacing old cables and computers. Ultimately, we killed the urban myth.
Two years later, we received more complaints about the software being slow. We partnered with the IT department to urge people to create help tickets when they had a complaint, rather than just bitching about the software and walking away. Shortly thereafter the number of help tickets spiked but analysis showed that in nearly every case the causes were not traceable to the software. It was usually browser settings or something similar. The one problem traceable to the software was the software’s inability to accept several characters such as the ampersand in passwords when the employee was requesting reports. We quickly communicated that to staff and the problem disappeared. Users now felt more confident to complete a help ticket resulting in prompt resolution and increased user satisfaction. (Imagine that!)
Improved Feedback Is Directly Related To Improved User Satisfaction
Our problems with CRM had nothing to do with the software and everything to do with the people and the processes. If you are experiencing problems with your CRM, solicit feedback from your users. Remember CRM is all about relationships. You must create simple easy channels for users to communicate feedback to you. Then follow up.
Dale Carnegie said that, “90% of all management problems are caused by miscommunication.” Just as you want your sales force to build more effective relationships with your customers, you’ve got to build more effective relationships with your sales force and other software users so that you can adjust your processes accordingly.
We still face challenges but we’ve got strategies to deal with them. The important thing to remember is that we know our CRM philosophy is working. For us, CRM is not dead; it is very much alive and kicking. If you would like to know more, email me and we can talk. I won’t try to sell you anything.
If you can relate to this, follow me on Twitter. I’m txglennross