My Twitter feed is going wild with #social, #mobile, #CX, and #bigdata hype. But Forrester clients want practical advice for today, in addition to spotting changes on the horizon.
One of the most common questions I get is: “What are the CRM pitfalls I need to watch out for?” I surveyed nearly 150 companies to find out the problems they faced with their CRM initiatives. Here is what you need to pay attention to:
Crafting a customer relationship management strategy. Eighteen percent of the problems at the companies I surveyed pertain to CRM strategy. Within the CRM strategy category, specific pitfalls identified include: inadequate deployment methodologies (40%), poorly defined business requirements (25%), and not achieving organizational alignment on objectives (18%).
“Reaching a consensus between IT’s objectives and those of the business unit was a problem.” (Marketing manager, manufacturing company)
“Internal disagreements on how to implement were the cause of our problems.” (Senior director, customer support, media, entertainment, and leisure company)
Rearchitecting critical customer-facing processes. CRM processes consist of the work practices associated with major customer-facing business functions within an organization. Twenty-seven percent of the problems reported center on difficulties with business process management. Within the business process category, specific pitfalls to watch out for include: technical/integration difficulties in supporting company processes (48%), poor business process design (31%), and the need to customize solutions to fit unique organizational requirements (21%).
What are the key trends that CRM trends that business and IT professionals need to pay attention to in setting their plans during 2012? Here are the top trends that I am tracking. My full report that spotlights our latest research and recommendations for how to compete in The Age of the Customer will be published in late January.
1. Customer experience management will move beyond aspiration to strategy. More organizations will move beyond empty goals like becoming “customer-obsessed” to define clear and actionable customer experience strategies. The strategy must meet three tests: 1) It defines the intended experience; 2) it directs employee activities and decision-making; and 3) it guides funding decisions and project prioritization.
2. Brands will embrace the experience ecosystem. Firms will move to break free from their organizational silos, invest in understanding customer moments of truth through journey-mapping, and embrace the concept of the “customer experience ecosystem” — one that considers the influence of every single employee and external partner on every single customer interaction.
3. Experience management will emerge as a management discipline. There is increasing acceptance of the idea that customer experience management can be thought of as a discipline — a set of sound, repeatable practices such as those are defined in Forrester’s Customer Experience Maturity Framework.
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.
I’m delighted to return to Forrester and its Customer Experience team after eight years of running my own business and technology strategy consulting practice.
I’m returning to the same group in which I worked before with Harley Manning and his team. It was in that group that I helped develop and implement Forrester’s Web Site Usability methodology, wrote reports like “Must Search Stink?” and “Smart Personalization,” promoted the use of customer data intelligence and CRM systems to drive proactive interactions that I called “Tier Zero Customer Service,” and reported on the uses of early community-based tools for customer service (today it's "social CRM").
A frequent question that I've been asked in the scores of phone calls over the past several weeks since my return has been: What are you going to cover? The short term answer is primarily four topic areas:
I interviewed 58 business and IT executives to uncover best practices for wringing more value from CRM deployments. I found that successful companies focus on five proven strategies. Attention to discipline in execution is what sets CRM winners apart.
1. Redouble efforts to promote user adoption. New CRM processes and technologies that have a clear benefit for users but are not properly introduced to the organization will not be adopted. These initiatives can quickly grind to a halt when they run up against "not invented here" (NIH) attitudes of users who feel that they have not been consulted about their needs. A good example of how to bring users into the fold is a multinational bank that I interviewed that had more than 3,000 CRM users. It invited 84 users to participate directly in the CRM vendor selection decision. These users attended videoconferences to review vendor solutions and then voted for the one that best fits their needs. This was followed by a series of Webinars that enabled users from around the world to view and critique prototype solutions developed by the CRM team. Finally, the end solution was tested in pilot programs in four countries. This process built a strong user constituency that eagerly embraced the final solution.