Companies need to take a strategic and informed approach to their CRM selection. Over the years, companies have spent large sums on CRM only to have it fail to deliver on the desired results. When CRM deployments do not meet expectations, it’s frequently due to a lack of clear business strategy or executive sponsorship, poor technology fit, inadequate planning, or a combination of these factors. CRM is first and foremost a strategy; CRM technology enables and supports this unique business strategy—not the other way around.
CRM is More than Just a Purchase, It’s a Strategy
No matter how sophisticated, no technology can be successful without a strategy to guide its implementation and use. Business strategy and technology must always work hand in hand to bring a customer-centric plan to maturity. CRM solutions will help you get to know your customers better, understand their needs, and respond to them to create a valuable customer experience. However, companies evaluating CRM options should remain mindful that CRM is and will continue to be a business strategy that requires the proper alignment of business processes, people, and technology to create a long-lasting profitable relationship. Consequently, before your company even considers assembling lists of requirements or evaluating available solutions, you need to take the time and effort to articulate your CRM strategy and goals clearly.
Learn to Define your CRM Strategy
Companies looking to become customer-centric must develop CRM strategies that make customers—more than products, processes, or even profits—the focal point of their business. Start by looking at how your company can build value through stronger customer relationships and improved customer loyalty. Secondly, define the full arc of the experience you want your customers to have: an experience distinctive, consistent, and positive enough to cement deeper relationships and enhanced loyalty. Above all, this experience from the first encounter through post-sales service will determine whether your customers buy more, stay longer, or recommend you to others.
To develop a solid CRM strategy, you must understand the market, industry, and customer drivers that influence the selection and use of your company’s products and services. You should also understand your competitive environment and consider how your firm can differentiate itself from competitors through the customer experience. Finally, you should carefully consider the impact and requirements of your strategy across different geographies, languages, markets, and channels.
Developing your CRM strategy is one of the most challenging building blocks of CRM success because it cannot merely be based on a simple set of rules or mirror another company’s strategy. Instead, your company’s goals, customers, conditions, and environment must be crucial in the strategy of your CRM. For example, if you asked our customers to describe their CRM strategies, you would likely get different answers, which merely proves that when done right, CRM helps create differentiation across firms, not uniformity.
Though each CRM strategy is unique, there are similarities in the goals companies seek to achieve. For instance, 82% of organizations have a desire to obtain a 360-degree customer view and to automate and manage sales-related processes. Other common goals include
- Accelerating the entire sales cycle
- Managing leads and opportunities more effectively
- Decreasing the overall cost of service
- Increasing collaboration and efficiency
- Achieving greater insight into sources of value for cross-selling and up-selling within the customer base
Beyond just benefiting customers, a successful CRM strategy must be congruent with an organization’s most important business goals. As Forbes notes, “Customer experience is what attracts new buyers and what makes existing customers want to stay and extend their relationship. Today’s CRM platforms improve the human experience of both employees and customers when deployed correctly.” Therefore, companies must define their business needs first to ensure their CRM investment aligns with the people and processes supporting their objectives.
A Valuable Customer Experience Vision is Crucial in Building a CRM
Your CRM vision should be more than an organizational mission statement. Too many companies create a great customer-centric slogan without any supporting initiatives, consequently creating an approach that can generate more backlash than goodwill. Thus, CRM is more than optics and claims, it’s about aligning your organization’s data and processes to create a customer experience that supports these claims.
Your CRM vision provides a rationale for your strategic and tactical CRM initiatives. Furthermore, it helps avoid the pitfall of focusing CRM activities too narrowly on a single part of the customer experience or lifecycle. Without this vision, a CRM implementation’s full potential for revenue growth and customer loyalty cannot be realized.
Let your Customers Guide You
It’s no surprise that in looking for areas of improvement, most organizations will focus primarily on the things they can understand and influence most easily, such as technology and processes. Unfortunately, this can be an error, resulting in inwardly focused CRM initiatives that provide minimal value to customers and prospects. Instead, identifying and meeting customer needs should be the primary goal of relationship management. Successful CRM strategies consider the customer’s point of view and build it into the company’s business processes.
Understanding your customers’ needs allows you to provide a relevant and differentiated experience. Building this understanding into your CRM system and processes will also improve the effectiveness and efficiency of your interactions with customers. Subsequently, this can thus result in a “win-win” scenario: the right CRM tools support marketing, sales, and customer service practices that please prospects and increase customer satisfaction while keeping the company productive, effective, and efficient behind the scenes.
Gathering information about your customers’ needs and preferences through your CRM system enables you to focus efforts on providing solutions for the customer rather than pushing products. Unsurprisingly, this approach often improves sales figures.
Make User Adoption your First Priority
Involving end-users in the overall system design significantly affects success. An intuitive interface, for example, is critical: one that can be personalized to reﬂect how different users work—not how the vendor thinks they should—will gain high marks. Ease of access to critical information anytime anywhere is another key user concern. By involving employees in the CRM vision and implementation, organizations can gain valuable insights and deliver more beneficial solutions while giving employees a sense that the system is being built by them, not for them.
It is also essential to recognize that implementing a CRM solution does not entail changes or migration to process and technology but the entire corporate culture. The transition to a customer-centric culture can be a significant hurdle for many companies. Consequently, this underlines the importance of having a uniﬁed and thorough CRM strategy that includes a commitment to leading, training, and supporting employees through the cultural transition of rolling out a CRM solution. To ensure a smooth roll-out and user adoption, companies need to dedicate sufﬁcient time up front to detailing all regional, international, internal, and external processes and roles that will be impacted by the transition and planning for an effective transition.
To ensure a CRM solution meets stakeholder expectations, deﬁne how CRM plays a critical supporting role in the corporate strategy, articulate the ultimate state of the customer relationship, and consider its effect on all business units and end-users from the start.
How Tokara Solutions is ready to help you get the most out of your CRM:
The business landscape is anything but static. Having a fully integrated, end-to-end CRM for every step in the customer journey is essential for any business looking to achieve the most while maintaining an ease of mind! Tokara Solutions offers help in providing the best CRM for you and your company!