For as long as business software has been around, company executives have complained about its underperformance. Too often, it seems, the reality does not meet the hype, resulting in disappointed product users, poor return on technology investment and the abandonment of one software system in favour of another.
Unfortunately all of this could be said of CRM software. Despite the rich functionality and ease-of-use capabilities of today’s most popular CRM systems, frequently management feels it doesn’t deliver on its promises. So what can be done about it?
All too often companies leave it up to their various CRM users to collectively drive the system to produce the desired results. What’s frequently lacking (and what’s needed) is someone in-house who can take ownership of both your overall CRM strategy and of the day-to-day operation of the system.
So who do you appoint to this role? For starters it needs to be someone who understands, and who can explain to system users, how CRM fits in with the company’s ‘big picture’ business goals. They need to share why the solution was implemented, and what its purpose is, in terms of the company’s strategic imperatives. Employees are unlikely to warmly embrace new technology if it’s simply been ‘dumped’ on them by management. As key stakeholders they need to understand what it’s all for and why it’s important. Without a commitment from end-users, the system will under-perform and staff will be left confused and discouraged. Education is key.
Equally as important is that, regardless of the potential business benefits of CRM to the company, employees charged with feeding data into the system will need to be convinced that its proper use will be of personal benefit to them. Too many CRM implementations have failed because users have perceived the system to be a hindrance to doing their jobs effectively, and so have simply decided to not use it. Or at least have not used it to its full potential. By effectively conveying the personal benefits of CRM to individual users, a motivated CRM advocate will be able to minimise the risk that staff will circumvent the system.
The ideal CRM owner, a champion of the CRM cause, also needs to be someone who understands the requirements of each of the business functions that the CRM system serves. Although Sales, Marketing and other business units have differing requirements and responsibilities, they all use the same CRM system. If not managed properly, changes made to one part of the system can adversely impact on other parts of the system and their users. Your CRM owner will ideally have the technical expertise to make system changes in a way that keeps disruption to a minimum and allows each user to get on with their job.
A commonly heard phrase when it comes to CRM software is ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ The success of your company’s CRM solution will largely be determined by the quality of the data it produces. Whoever’s in charge of your CRM strategy will need to understand what type of data senior management needs in order to improve decision-making and help the company meet its strategic goals, while also having a workable grasp on the mechanics of data input and extraction. Here’s where the blend of a birds-eye view and a granular focus is all-important. Supported by the expertise of your company’s IT staff, your ideal CRM owner will sit comfortably between these areas of focus.
With system users both fully engaged and well-supported by your CRM owner, the likely success of your CRM implementation will be greatly enhanced. The stakes for this type of technology implementation are high, so it’s vital to get it right. The appointment of someone who can sit on top of the system and manage all its moving parts will ensure you fulfil CRM’s enormous potential.
This blog was written by Irene Ryan for http://blog.pa.com.au. For more information, go to www.pa.com.au
[cd-form type=”contact-2columns” title=”Need an answer?” action=”http://analytics.clickdimensions.com/forms/h/aQFTAdPgQOEOW6iXUblDtg” button=”Make an enquiry” thankyou=”Thank you for your enquiry. We’ll be in touch shortly.”]