Gain a competitive edge and nurture deep customer relationships
September 26, 2023 | Read time: 6 min
The term CRM, short for 'Customer Relationship Management', often signifies more than its literal meaning “the management of customer relations”. For a final customer, it actually represents a great experience with a brand. This implies placing the customer as the focal point of any organization and implementing better customer processes, nowadays often named ”customer centricity”.
Similarly, from a business perspective, a Statista survey reveals that 85% of CRM users expect an enhanced customer experience as the most significant benefit. Other advantages expected are faster decision-making (58%), streamlined operations (54%), and improved collaboration between sales, marketing, service, and operations (53%). Last but not least, the benefits include the introduction of new business models or products, high innovation, and improved competition in the digital landscape. Studies have consistently shown a correlation between exceptional CRM practices and financial performance, emphasizing why businesses strive to be more customer-centric.
Implementing an effective CRM roadmap is fundamental for gaining a competitive edge and nurturing deep customer relationships. A CRM roadmap is a strategic plan that clarifies how you'll employ your CRM system to achieve your business goals. It helps align your CRM activities with your vision, values, mission, and objectives, which you can then communicate with your stakeholders.
But how can you develop a CRM strategy that works for your organization?
A CRM roadmap identifies how a company can meet and exceed its customer's needs, including assessing how the sales, marketing, and service departments cooperate to gain customer insights (for example, purchase history or favorite products or services), create valuable offerings (for example, personalized products), and deliver superior customer experiences. Aligning an organization’s business strategy with CRM capabilities is the core of developing a CRM strategy.
Developing a CRM Roadmap involves aligning an organization’s business strategy with its CRM capabilities. Discover eight primary steps that can be used across industries, including financial services, electronics, high-tech, consumer products, manufacturing, etc., to follow when developing and implementing a CRM Roadmap.
Data becomes outdated over time, so it's vital to keep it updated. Track changes regarding addresses, bank details, phone numbers, and email addresses, and ensure that the customer’s order history is accurate. This requires knowing the actual state of your data and detecting any missing or incomplete information. By having a 360-degree understanding of your data pool, you can ensure that your marketing campaigns and customer communication are accurate.
For example, an e-commerce company can use customer data to track order history and provide personalized product recommendations, achieving increased customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
Introduce regular meetings with key stakeholders and decision-makers within the company to gather insights. These discussions can be facilitated using an in-depth interview template that includes questions to gauge the health of the CRM.
Examples of questions:
It’s important to clearly communicate the results of these meetings, and report the progress in implementing the defined measures.
By holding these meetings, the current CRM capabilities and significant opportunities to enhance their customer relationships can be evaluated and analyzed. At the same time, it is necessary to define the company’s future direction, usually for a time frame of six months to two years. The results help determine how close the company is to meeting and exceeding its customers' expectations and identify the gaps between its current and its desired CRM state.
Value opportunities represent the potential benefits delivered by becoming more customer-centric. Once these opportunities are identified, prioritize them with the executive team.
Examples of ”process value opportunities” include improving how data is captured for all customer contacts, across sales functions and touch points (for example, phone, email, etc.). “People value opportunities” may involve additional training on service procedures for capturing customer data. “Technology value opportunities” might include developing a data warehouse.
Based on these insights, categorize the value opportunities based on departments, processes, and technologies by analyzing the gaps between the company’s current state and its desired future state. Last but not least, organize meetings with the executive team to decide on concrete actions to prioritize them and to discuss options.
After identifying the value opportunities, map each one to the CRM capabilities. This identification enables companies to direct their CRM efforts more effectively.
Strategic CRM Capability
Improve customer understanding
Acquire thorough knowledge of the customer
Leverage customer information from the service process
Understand customer profitability and cost-to-serve
Once the value opportunities are prioritized, define specific CRM measures, assign responsibilities, and determine budgets. The corresponding CRM projects must be executed to ensure the company masters the relevant strategic CRM capabilities. After defining CRM projects, identify the business and technical requirements needed.
An effective way to define relevant projects is through brainstorming sessions with the final client. Some results examples include:
Once CRM projects are defined, it is vital to go one step further and identify the business and technical requirements. These requirements should be specific and implicate the right people, process, and technology components of each project. For the first example, "Understanding Customer Profitability," functional requirements might include:
After defining the projects and requirements, develop the business case to support the necessity of a specific project. Each business case should include details about:
For example, the price for a typical CRM investment is dependent upon the number and extent of initiatives identified. For instance, marketing insight is typically very expensive and often requires a company-wide data warehouse with links to legacy systems dispersed over the organization. In addition, performing the analysis necessary to reveal insights requires specialized software and training for the staff that will use it. Other initiatives can be quite simple. Salesforce automation initiatives often fall into this category and offer the additional benefit of introducing CRM concepts and execution to a company on a small scale with a high probability of success. The investment cost takes into account the number of users, internal and external human resources, training, infrastructure, hardware, software, and the responsible implementation costs. The standard ROI for this type of investment is 2 to 6 times the initial cost or outlay.
Once the costs are quantified for each project, the potential benefits can now be estimated. This not only implies simply quantifying project costs, but also evaluating the benefits of mastering specific CRM capabilities (Step 5). A key requirement is to ensure that top executives will support the extent of the expected benefits. Business cases enable an organization to prioritize each project’s value to the company.
Developing a roll-out strategy enables organizations to focus their resources, money, and time on the most important projects that help them become customer-driven. Prioritization and phasing of projects are conducted with the top executives and evaluates the results of the business cases by leveraging financial results, a responsible implementation duration, level of effort, and technical impact required for each project.
Achieving success in developing long-term and qualitative relationships with customers begins with a comprehensive understanding of a company's functions and capabilities. Therefore, developing a CRM roadmap is not a one-time exercise, but a continuous process that adapts to customers' changing needs and preferences. The right strategy can help your company form stronger, more profitable relationships with its customers, and obtain a competitive advantage in the marketplace - improved customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy.
Remember, a CRM strategy is not about the technology itself but how you use it to enhance your customer relationships and drive business growth. It is about creating a customer-centric culture within your organization, where everyone from the top down understands the importance of delivering exceptional customer experiences.
In the end, a successful CRM strategy demands a company-wide commitment and shared communication to put customers first. It is a significant investment, but one that can deliver substantial returns in the form of improved customer loyalty, more efficient operations, and ultimately, increased profit margins.
*This article is the first of an extensive series, diving into CXM Strategies, Best Practices, and Technologies, as we will reveal the secrets of delivering exceptional customer experiences.
If you don’t have the internal resources to take on a well-documented CRM roadmap, since it involves a significant amount of time and resources, work with an independent CRM consultancy company. We are here to support you through your CRM implementation journey, from the business strategy to selecting the most appropriate solution that fully meets your needs, to ongoing maintenance and support. Contact us to learn more.