To succeed in the age of the customer, business and IT professionals who support front-office business processes cannot afford failed technology initiatives. But how do you acquire and deploy the appropriate supporting technologies and lead and sustain the necessary organizational changes to be successful?
Knowledge workers have a great deal of control over the tools they use to get their jobs done, and you must convince them of the value of using a new technology tool. The cost of poor adoption is twofold: underutilized investment and unmet business objectives. Driving adoption needs to be a top priority of any customer relationship management (CRM) initiative, and getting there requires skills and resources to drive effective change management.
To understand the prevalence of the risks and pitfalls that AD&D pros need to navigate to achieve a successful CRM technology project, Forrester partnered with CustomerThink to survey 650 individuals who had been involved in a CRM technology project as a business professional in sales, marketing, customer service, or IT within the past 36 months.
According to our respondents, the top "people" challenges when implementing a CRM solution include cultural resistance to adopting new ways of working (45%), difficulties in achieving user adoption (44%), insufficient planning and attention given to change management (42%), and inadequate leadership (38%).
In a recent report, my colleague Robert Brosnan correctly spotlights that marketers require ever more technology to capture, integrate, analyze, and apply customer data to marketing programs. Indeed, the technology portfolio that marketing leaders must understand and manage is exploding. Marketers typically have a portfolio of technology assets to support marketing planning, marketing asset management, campaign management, segmentation, and predicative modeling. And most marketers work with online marketing tools for email, mobile, social, and web analytics.
Rob recommends that marketers establish an enterprisewide marketing technology office (MTO) to ease and take advantage of technology development. The office, working through a chief marketing technology strategist, sets marketing technology strategy, makes the business case for embedding new technology within marketing programs, and manages technology-related partnerships. The marketing technology strategy should summarize the road map for how you plan to employ the technologies necessary to understand and engage more deeply with your target customers.
Forrester defines the marketing technology road map as:
A plan that matches short-term and long-term marketing goals with specific technology solutions to help meet those goals.
So how do you formulate the marketing technology strategy and road map?
What are the right metrics to track the success of a CRM initiative? I just updated my report on this topic for 2011. The report illustrates over 70 different metrics and describes how to link them to business strategies and tactics.
What’s new in the report? My clients are incorporating new measures into their portfolio. In addition to traditional operational metrics, they are adding externally focused customer perception metrics. In particular, I see a rise in adoption of voice of the customer (VoC) metrics and “social metrics”:
The emergence of ubiquitous high-speed broadband connectivity, smartphones, and tablet devices with enormous computing power and longer battery life, along with increased employee adoption of touchscreen devices (iPhone/iPad/BlackBerry) in every sphere of life, are all trends that serve to “liberate IT from the desktop.”
I am currently midway through a major research cycle on the topic, talking with CRM vendors, systems integrators, and end users. My goal is to define mobile CRM best practices and spotlight the pitfalls that can get in way of capitalizing on the mobile technology revolution.
I recently talked with Model Metrics, Wipro’s CRM consulting practice leaders, and Tata Consultancy Services’ CRM practice leadership team. These consulting and development firms are all doing a lot of mobile CRM projects for their clients. We brainstormed about the critical considerations that that must be addressed when defining a mobile CRM strategy:
Who are the intended users and targeted business community for mobile app use?
One of the most common questions I get is: How to we assure (or, improve) the adoption of a CRM solution in our organization?
In the past, the clumsy user interfaces (UI) of CRM solutions have turned off users, causing them to reject the solutions offered by their IT departments. In response to these complaints, the leading CRM solution providers, such as Oracle Siebel CRM and SAP CRM, have invested heavily to improve the UIs in their most recent releases. The same is true for midmarket solutions like the Sage family of CRM products, CDC’s Pivotal, and Sugar CRM. salesforce.com has achieved great success with its pioneering UI that incorporates the ease-of-use characteristics of consumer-oriented solutions that employees are used to working with in their private lives. And Microsoft Dynamics CRM applies the vendor’s knowledge of the use patterns of desktop applications, and incorporates the familiar Outlook UI paradigm, with a focus on improving user productivity.
In addition to choosing a CRM solution with a modern user-friendly UI, what can you do to improve adoption? Here are eight tips that I picked up working with the CRM leader at major bank:
Define your business processes before selecting technology. "One key to success was that we defined a standardized sales process before we purchased the technology to enable it. We had a team of users study our sales processes and define better ways of working for the future.”
The phenomenon of the social Web — which Forrester calls Social Computing — is forcing business process professionals to expand their thinking beyond the goal of optimizing a two-way relationship between an enterprise and customer to also include the simultaneous interactions that customers have among themselves. CRM is evolving from its traditional focus on optimizing customer-facing transactional processes to include the strategies and technologies to develop collaborative and social connections with customers, suppliers, and even competitors.
Notwithstanding this emerging trend, one challenge that I see remains constant. Organizations still struggle to define the right CRM strategies and effectively acquire and deploy the right CRM technology solutions that will meet their needs. Disappointment with CRM is usually the result of poorly conceived strategies that lack a laser focus on improving a specific set of business capabilities to increase revenues or reduce costs. To avoid wasting your time and money on ill-conceived CRM programs, beware of the two most common pitfalls of CRM plans:
No strategic focus on business value. Many companies have a grand vision to become "more customer-focused," but the implementation of this vision often lacks practical focus and recognition of the typical constraints (e.g., time, money, and politics) that must be taken into account to make the vision a reality. A CRM program should be tightly linked to business goals, focused on customer benefits, clearly identify the processes and constituencies that will be affected, and specify the associated information and functionality needs.
As a consequence of the ever-rising popularity of CRM solutions deployed through the software-as-service model (SaaS), I get a lot of inquiries about pricing and contracting with vendors like Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, NetSuite, RightNow Technologies, and salesforce.com. Sage CRM products (Sage CRM and Sage SalesLogix) are now offered through “the cloud”, and specialty CRM players in the life sciences sector, such as Cegedim Dendrite, StayinFront, and Veeva Systems, also offer this deployment option.
The individuals responsible for choosing to deploy a CRM SaaS solution are often business users, not IT people or solutions sourcing professionals — the director of sales and marketing, vice president of sales, and director of customer service, for example. These business executives are often unfamiliar with the more technical and commercial aspects involved in choosing a SaaS application. Obviously getting a good price is important, but there are additional considerations to keep in mind. Here are some guidelines to help you to negotiate a sound agreement:
Strive for a price lock-in at renewal time. Firms are often able to negotiate substantial discounts when signing initial contracts with SaaS vendors. But these companies don't always consider what happens at the end of the initial contract term. A discount of more than 50% might be offered, but once the contract is up for renewal, you may be in for a surprise if the discount is no longer available. Make sure to have renewal pricing rules stipulated in your contract.