“Successful CRM is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price-but as a differentiator.” – Bob Thompson
Today the customers for any business ‘call the shots’, and it is the relationship that companies are able to build with them that help sustain businesses long-term. Customer relationship management – better known as CRM – is therefore quintessential to the success of companies, and hence must be an inextricable part of a company’s overall business strategy. CRM technology today enables companies to connect and engage with their customers better and in ways that were unheard of even a few years back. However, just like with any other business imperative and strategy, companies face several challenges in this realm and CRM blunders, often repeatedly, are a reality. CRM is a highly effective tool when implemented, and used, right. It is necessary for companies to choose the most effective platform and deploy the techniques effectively for any substantial and sustainable improvements in their relationships with customers. The tricky and harsh part is that if companies continue with CRM blunders they could actually end up in a worse situation than before they used this tool.
To help companies avoid the common CRM blunders it would be important to first understand the common mistakes and finding ways to avoid them. As mentioned, the underlying success factor of any customer related initiative would be to first understand the audience, and evaluate the solutions from their perspective. One of the most common CRM blunders that companies make is choosing their CRM solutions based on their own convenience – not thinking about the end users. The end users in this case would be the employees who would need to use the CRM systems, and deliver top results for their customers. The employees, who would use the CRM tools, must be involved in making a decision on which solution would work best. The benefits and results of using certain tools and CRM solutions must be discussed and made clear to the users. The reason such initiatives fail in a company is that companies commit one of the top CRM blunders – not showing potential users how it would help them save time by automating processes, which in turn would result in higher efficiency and revenue, and would reduce costs for the company.
The next on the list of CRM blunders is not using user-friendly mobile solutions. A company’s sales and marketing teams operate on the go, for the most part of their day. The CRM solutions should be designed and optimized for their use as well, providing real-time updates on their appointments, calls with customers, visits to the customer’s facility, and other such ‘out of the office’ activities. By doing so, they would have a handy and readily accessible log of all their activity with every customer they contact, which in turn would enable them to appear knowledgeable about the customer, and proficient in providing solutions.
The premise of starting any business would be to ensure that it would grow and expand. This implies therefore, that any tools and processes a company uses should also be scalable. One of the most common CRM blunders companies make is choosing solutions for their existing business only – with no provision of serving their business when it does grow and expand. It is imperative for any business to choose CRM solutions that would be able to serve their future business as well.
In today’s world, social media is part of the personal and professional lives of most urban dwellers. Ignoring and not including social media, as a CRM tool is possibly one of the worst CRM blunders. However, simply collecting and tracking this information today does not suffice – companies must listen actively and intelligently to their customers, and engage with them through the various social media platforms. The data that companies can gain about customers from social media, can help them to create long-term and strong relationships with their customers, which in turn can help them to improve every customer experience, and help the company to becoming increasingly profitable. Apart from engaging CRM tools to integrate with social media, it is also essential for companies to integrate CRM systems with all the other vital systems in the company. Experts in the field of CRM state that companies, which, for example, integrate their email with CRM tend to report at least 22-23 percentage growth in revenue, as opposed to only about 13% for companies that do not. It must be understood that CRM systems are not an address book for customer basic details. Unless a company’s CRM systems capture every interaction that customers have with a company, it would be impossible for the users to provide top experiences to customers.
Another of the common CRM blunders is when companies fail to assign onus / ownership to one person / team for the CRM initiatives. Without someone to take explicit responsibility for action and follow through, the initiatives will lose steam and ultimately fail. There must always be someone in charge – someone, who would be proficient in CRM tools, and would be able to pass on the knowledge to other users as well. As mentioned, the ultimate users must know why they need to change their current working methods, and how these CRM tools would benefit them and the company. Poor user-adoption is perhaps the swiftest route to ensuring the failure of CRM initiatives. Adding to this, another one of the common CRM blunders is putting incomplete and or inaccurate data into the CRM systems. This would mean that the end users would not be able to use the system effectively, as the output from the system would be skewed and not useable.
Every initiative and process a company puts in place must have benefit and utility for the company’s business – the same applies to CRM software and tools. Therefore, one of the top CRM blunders is when companies adopt CRM simply because a particular tool works for someone else. The fact is that it does not work this way – what would work for one business, may not necessarily work for another. Each business would be unique given its line of work, customers, and processes, and it would be necessary for a company to conduct in-depth research to understand which CRM system would work best for its business. As mentioned, simply adopting the most appropriate CRM systems would not suffice – the people within the organization who would need to use it must know how to and derive the maximum benefits out of it. Providing adequate training would be necessary – and most companies tend to commit the mistake of ignoring this important step that would lead to the successful implementation and working of the CRM systems.
Despite the many benefits of CRM systems, it would be necessary for companies to contain their excitement with regard to their latest ‘find and acquisition’. One of the most common CRM blunders is when a company has unrealistic expectations from the CRM systems, and hence the goals would be overly ambitious. This in turn would not only lead to disappointment, but could also prove to be extremely intimidating for the new users of the system. Instead, companies must seek to ensure maximum user adoption. The systems must be such that they deliver high value within short spans, keeping users happy and showing them instant benefits of the system. This in turn will gain a higher ROI for the company – since the employees are a company’s most vital asset, and keeping them interested in the various initiatives and imperatives, such as CRM system adoption, will ensure their full cooperation. CRM systems can prove to be a major benefit for any company, albeit if a company understands and avoid the common CRM blunders.