Wednesday, January 25, 2006

CRM Not Quite Dead on Arrival

CRM might not be Dead on Arrival, but it sure has developed a serious limp.

Lots of companies have now invested a large portion of their recent lives in implementing, troubleshooting, ripping out and replacing customer relationship management (CRM) systems.

Part of the reason for discontent is that despite its name, the greatest failure of CRM is that it never really was about directly helping customers. Solutions were sold to executives running call centers or sales organizations as a way to wring out inefficiency, force standardized processes and gain better insight into the state of the business.

But CRM completely failed to address was the need to help marketing and sales to communicate to customers with more relevance, timeliness and to resolve customer problems

A major reason is that marketers at companies with CRM systems have generally failed to do the strategic planning and cultural evolution so that their companies were prepared to actually improve customer relationships. Until we do this hard work, until we get our databases right, until we develop the content development and delivery right ... well, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

This does not mean junk the CRM. It means if you got one, step back and evaluate your value stream (the processes by which you ultimately deliver value to your customers).

What mechanisms do you have in place to improve your ability to hear what the customer wants?

What content do you need to deliver in marketing campaigns, in customer service programs, in field sales?

How should the documents you send out be made more relevant to the people you send them to?

What is the real marketing, sales and customer service strategy that makes you more valuable to your customers?

What solutions do you pitch at each customer interaction? How can you improve responsiveness and relevance from your contact center agents?

Improve each critical step in the value stream so that the software finally delivers its big promise to you.

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