CRM Success Requires Focus On People, Not Only Technology

There’s a very large graveyard of failed CRM projects. There’s more CRM initiatives that have spiraled out of control to become multimillion-dollar investments that negatively affected large numbers of customer-facing employees and didnt deliver any real results.  The cost of poor CRM adoption is twofold: underutilized investment and unmet business objectives.

We recently ran a survey in partnership with  CustomerThink to understand the risks and pitfalls that CRM professions need to navigate to achieve a successful CRM technology project. We surveyed 414 individuals who had been involved in a CRM technology project as a business professional in sales, marketing, customer service, or technology management within the past 36 months. Not surprisingly, we found that successful CRM technology projects are not only about choosing the right software. They demand a balanced, multifaceted approach that addresses four critical fundamentals: 

  • People issues. Nearly two-fifths (38%) of respondents stated that their problems were the result of people issues such as slow user adoption, inadequate attention paid to change management and training, and difficulties in aligning the organizational culture with new ways of working.
  • CRM Process. One-third (33%) of respondents faced problems because of poor or insufficient definition of business requirements, inadequate business process designs, and the need to customize solutions to fit unique organizational requirements.
  • CRM Strategy. One-third (33%) of respondents had challenges related to CRM strategy, such as a lack of clearly defined objectives, a lack of organizational readiness, and insufficient solution governancepractices.
  • CRM Technology. Just over one-third (35%) of respondents had technology deficiencies such as data problems, functional shortfalls in vendor solutions, a lack of the required skill sets needed to implement the solution, system performance shortfalls, and poor usability.

If you dont get your CRM change management processes right, they will cause any initiative - including your CRM initiative - to fail. Specifically, you need to: 

  • Plan carefully to facilitate changes in management and employee behaviors. Senior executives set the tone for the need for a customer-centric culture and new processes and tools that support customers more effectively. Leaders must plan for changes in the work practices needed to meet customer management goals. 
  • Use continuous improvement processes to soften culture shock. Successful CRM requires an organization to learn new business processes. Organizations often underestimate the difficulty of work practices, redefining work roles and responsibilities, and aligning employee reward structures to support better customer engagement and service. 
  • Overcome adoption issues by letting users influence functionality. Don't expect high adoption rates for CRM processes and technologies that do not have a clear benefit for CRM users. Organizations mus involve end users in the CRM selection process, in the rollout and early stages of use. They must get continuous feedback from users and act on it to roll out engacements and fix defects that impede productivity. 

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