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Thinking CRM - how to ensure success of your implementation

CRM projects by their very essence are ambitious initiatives, yet statistics show that most of them fail to obtain the desired results. The reasons may be varied. Also, failures can be interpreted in more than one way by different stakeholders-

  • Time/ cost overrun, negative ROI

  • Low user adoption

  • Process automations that deliver no strategic benefits

  • Non-futuristic design, unable to integrate, poor data quality/ Not scalable

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that ensures success just by choosing a CRM! Success depends on employing the best practices throughout the lifecycle.

CRM Lifecycle

Once you have embarked on the CRM journey, it's crucial to keep the customers at the core - to become truly customer-centric.

Conceptualize

CRMnext vision: For ensuring success, the very first step is to chart a customer vision. Set-up a CRM steering committee that will have sponsorship from top management. This is essential for giving vision and continuous direction to initiatives. It will also give the CRM an organisational perspective rather than a departmental solution.

Set tangible goals: Do an analysis to benchmark existing processes so that you can set measurable goals that will tangibly justify your success post implementation.

Discover

CRM core team: Set-up a CRM team that has representation from all LOBs, departments, major geographies, user groups and even vendors. These members of the core team, will ensure process completeness, align departmental boundaries and also be responsible for user buy-ins/ sign-offs. Thus, the core team will act as CRM champions to drive implementation.

User adoption: Think of user adoption at an early stage rather than pushing it later, by early user involvement that will drive the sense of ownership and avert them from viewing CRM as a management tool.

Implement

Phased manner: Typically, CRM initiatives are of a futurist characteristic, yet everything is required 'as on yesterday.' The ideal way is to understand the ground realities, readiness of other systems/ stakeholders and go in a phased manner instead of going 'big-bang' to get an early benefit and also incorporate feedbacks in subsequent development.

Manage change: A good CRM implementation is one that brings process efficiency that necessarily translate into change. This change could be in terms of getting rid of redundant processes, systems, roles, positions etc. Hence, it is important to understand the impact areas before 'going live'. Set a change management process that will help you sail smoothly into newer implementations.

Go-live

Training: Use a 'train the trainer' approach wherein trainers are not an external entity but champion users who are part of the team. The trainer understands the business plus its technology aspect and is therefore able to bear the torch for the team.

Hand holding: Set-up a dedicated point of contact who will help users familiarise themselves with the system as and when required, so as to pre-empt any usage issue plus boost user adoption. Initial teething problems can be easily handled this way and will set the right pace for the future.

Enhance

Measure: Without measurement, one cannot improve performance. Measure important KPIs applicable to your business process - they will not only justify your investments but also bring improvements.

Benchmarking: Learning processes that benchmark performance should be set-up. Constantly seek ways to set higher standards - this will enhance process efficiency.

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