The Journey to a Successful CRM Project

Navigating towards successful CRM implementation: 6 mistakes to avoid


January 13, 2023 | Read time: 6 min

CRM implementations are more complex than you thought

CRM implementations involve many internal company divisions and imply several stakeholders. On the way to a successful project, you may encounter a variety of obstacles. If you want to prevent failure, you should consider the following recommendations.

Usually, the expectations from a CRM system are high*. But why do these solutions don't always deliver what companies hope for? Why client satisfaction is expectations in a variety of components such as usability, performance, automation, or general added value.

What are the reasons for these inconsistencies?

1. Unclear or unrealistic expectations

In many cases, the management does not completely understand the goals and outcomes of a CRM implementation. As a result, the perceived benefits are way over system capabilities.

What's the solution?

  • Link the CRM strategy and goals with your business strategy. Make everyone understand that CRM solutions have strategic importance and extend to many dimensions of the business like workflow automation, third-party integration, customer service, employee tracking, and lead management.
  • Provide adequate human and material resources to sustain the project with enough know-how. Make an achievable action plan and a roadmap.
  • Make sure that top management understands and supports all future CRM activities.
  • Plan the CRM activities according to your own business processes and strategies from the beginning.

2. CRM is not just a marketing and sales topic

The business analysis and how you can translate your corporate strategy into the CRM are often associated with one or two departments. This results in a discrepancy between what the CRM project can do** and what it actually achieves when assigned to some individual departments.

It's true that sales and marketing departments should live in the CRM on a daily basis, but they are not the only departments that must access the system. Customer implying processes don't only take place in marketing and sales. CRMs have grown over the years to include much more than customer data and sales figures, effectively becoming an ecosystem that finance, operations, customer success, human resources, and information technology can utilize and benefit from.

Example: Finance will also benefit from having sales rep activities logged in the CRM. Expense reports are a sore topic for every organization, but the Finance department can monitor appropriate spending via the CRM by quickly reviewing if a specific client has no open deals, limited sales activity on the account, and hasn’t been modified in quite some time. This helps Finance stay better informed on whether or not the expense is legitimately helping the business.

If the CRM is regularly reduced to marketing and sales, customer management not be used effectively. In addition, all internal departments will not have an overview of other areas in which CRM can be efficient.

What's the solution?

  • Integrate all relevant departments of the company into the CRM planning. This includes not only all customer-oriented areas such as marketing, sales, and customer service. Even those that are necessary to carry out customer-centric processes, such as IT, logistics, product development, etc. are important to be involved in the process.
  • Organize all customer processes across all departments. This helps you eliminate silos and gaps in the CXM.

3. Defining vague CRM goals

There are many benefits to implementing a CRM solution. But there are probably too many to target them all. In order to be efficient, you must define clear and achievable expectations for the software. So what are the goals of your CRM project? And, of course, once you have defined them, make sure you stick to them! Here are typical CRM project goals:

  • Centralize current and potential customer information
  • Unify and standardize internal processes
  • Keep track of all your interactions with your contacts
  • Personalize customer communication
  • Drive the activities of your sales force
  • Automate administrative tasks
  • Analyze customer data
  • Accompany the evolution of your marketing and sales strategy

What can you do?

  • Prioritize smaller operational sections in your CRM with the highest effectiveness. In other words: which processes can benefit most from the new CRM implementation? Which of them can also be implemented with the lowest risk?
  • These smaller operational sections in your CRM serve you as ideal pilots. The knowledge from this can be passed on to other colleagues in other departments for further projects. The acceptance rate will grow based on the previous success rate.

4. Employees are insufficiently involved

It's true that CRM implementations should be coordinated by top management. This does not mean that employees should not be taken into account in planning, decision-making, and implementation. On the contrary, your employees are the ones who are supposed to use the new applications and processes in the end. So why not involve anyone in the company in the implementation process from the beginning?

What can you do?

  • Plan CRM implementation and objectives together with all employees/stakeholders.
  • Use change management, especially for large-scale projects. This allows you to take all the necessary stakeholders with you as early as the planning phase.
  • Communicate CRM project progress regularly. Be transparent and receptive to questions and provide feedback.
  • Establish a consistent, customer-oriented corporate culture.

5. Modern CRM software only work when there are well-grounded business processes in place

Often, new technologies are supposed to solve long-known problems, quickly. In most cases, these miracles don't happen. The problem doesn't occur from the state-of-the-art technologies that are being used, but due to inefficient processes mapping or gaps in the existing business procedures. Ambiguities in organizational regulations such as unclear responsibilities or inconsistently defined responsibilities are also among the problems.

What can you do?

  • Identify your specific business needs*** before evaluating and implementing CRM solutions.
  • Make sure that business objectives prevail over the technical and infrastructural sides of the CRM, according to the motto "software follows strategy". In other words, if the new software fits perfectly into the infrastructure, but cannot implement processes necessary for your business goals, then it is not the right software for you.

6. CRM - a system that optimizes internal processes regarding products and services

A CRM solution is often reduced to technical specifications. If the system is designed to optimize individual processes, the big picture might be lost on the way. It's important to see the CRM as a vision. It encompasses the strategies and processes that provide the framework for your organization's goals and aspirations.

What can you do?

  • Focus the CRM implementation around the customer benefits. What are the advantages of optimizing individual processes and/or products and services for the customer?
  • Show willingness to change yourself and your company and make room for innovation.
  • Customer centricity is the keyword - consistently aligning all decisions and activities around the customer perspective.
  • Adapt and transform concepts and system design to the customer needs.

About the Author

Qualysoft's Head of Business Consulting, Dr. Martin Stadelmann is an expert in customer experience management. For almost 20 years, he has been sustaining businesses worldwide, regardless of industry, on their way to a holistic CRM approach. His mantra is that a successful introduction of a CRM system does not automatically mean that the CRM system will be successful. His approach takes into account many other aspects that go beyond technology, ranging from strategic planning to change management in the company.

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