Plan, execute, and sustain your CRM implementation successfully
March 27, 2023 | Read time: 6 min
In today's highly competitive business environment, customer relationship management (CRM) has become essential to any organization's success. CRM projects, however, can be challenging to implement and require careful planning and execution. In this article, you will learn about the key factors contributing to CRM projects' success. From a customer-centric approach defining clear objectives to selecting the right technology and engaging stakeholders, you will learn valuable insights and practical tips for CRM project management.
A better customer understanding through a change in perspective
When we talk about the "customer perspective", we address the change in perspective that market-oriented companies should adopt. The perspective shifts from an "inside" to an "outside" view. We should analyze our market activities like external stakeholders. We should put ourselves in the shoes of our customers from both product and process perspectives. By doing that we learn to understand our customers, and also "the customers of our customers", and align our entire thinking and actions with them.
This customer-centric approach is relevant for every industry, from artisanal businesses to financial service providers, telecommunications, and public institutions such as energy suppliers or local authorities. More than that, this approach is relevant in B2C and B2B contexts.
Conducting focus group workshops that test new products and processes in real-life situations before their market launch will reveal useful feedback about the "customer experience" and regularly generate ideas for optimization. This research should involve relevant customers and customer groups, good timing, and an open-minded approach regarding the results, as they are a source of improvement, not a grade on someone's work.
Last but not least, valuable insights can be obtained from support requests or poor customer ratings. Reach out to them directly, either through standard questionnaires, complaint forms, performance inquiries, or service cases. You can even informally organize scheduled customer meetings to learn about their satisfaction, needs, and feelings. Use this vital information to optimize your customer management.
Efficient and integrated customer processes
Internal barriers are often more harmful to CRM projects than external competition. Communication gaps and conflicts among departments, such as marketing, sales, and customer service obstruct effective cross-selling. To address this, set common company goals involving all these departments and focus on customer management. Establishing these objectives at both operational and strategic levels ensures consistent alignment with customer expectations.
More than that, well-defined processes and coordination between employees and decision-makers are essential for creating a shared understanding base. The acquisition, development, and retention functions of customer management should be important, as they form the base for future operational steps, especially when combining CRM and ERP data.
It is crucial for companies to determine who owns the customer and define relevant customer segments. The responsibility for providing the appropriate products and services should also be assigned to specific organizational units or roles. Furthermore, a uniform understanding of key customers across all areas and hierarchy levels must be established, with specifically designed customer processes.
Key Account Management should be an important department in any customer-oriented organization. By addressing these internal barriers and implementing integrated core customer processes, companies can become more efficient and effective in their CRM initiatives.
A prerequisite for optimal customer management and a differentiation factor in the market
To achieve future-proof customer relationship management, a systematic approach to collecting, preparing, maintaining, and updating customer data is required.
Both customer master data and movement data are crucial for effective customer management. While master data focuses on transactions, movement data implies customer processes, historicization, and statistical analysis.
The primary goal of customer data management, besides maintaining data or duplicate cleansing, is understanding which information is needed for effective customer processes, from the customer experience (CX) perspective. This allows businesses to discover and fulfill customer needs within a data-driven CRM that maintains high-quality, up-to-date data, and integrates relevant information.
"Quality over quantity" is always true regarding the data in customer management. Establish and enforce consistent data quality rules and measures throughout the company to ensure the long-term success and effectiveness of your CRM initiatives.
Dr. Matin Stadelmann
Dr. Matin Stadelmann is the Head of Business Consulting at Qualysoft GmbH in Switzerland. For over 20 years, he has been accompanying companies from all industries on their way toward a holistic CRM approach. He is a lecturer at the University of St. Gallen and co-founder of the Executive Program "Master of Advanced Studies in CRM" at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW).