July 11, 2019

Taking Your CRM Strategy to the Next Level

Onset of technological advancements, coupled with a constant need for customer engagement, has led businesses to invest heavily on Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

According to Forrester, ~ 63% of Small & Medium sized businesses (SMBs) & ~68% Enterprises, now use CRM. The CRM market has been growing by 12% annually, and is projected to be $ 82B, by 2025. Looking at these numbers, one is led to question, what is it that businesses are doing with their CRM, and what does it take for them, to drive their CRM software to the next level?

Fig: Is everyone using a CRM?

Even though businesses are using CRM for Sales, Service and Marketing automation, a “one size fits all” approach may not be best suited.
Fig: Common CRM Failures

Identifying what’s suited for your business, to avoid common CRM failures, requires a multi-pronged approach, as follows:
1. Define a CRM strategy that best fits your business
  • Define what you want (i.e: CRM goals) clearly, without getting overwhelmed, by what technology can or cannot do.
    Lack of well-defined requirements is a common pitfall
    Fig: Lack of well-defined requirements is a common pitfall

  • Know what you are getting into, especially the long-term incremental costs, which are associated with implementing and adopting any enterprise wide system. Businesses often underestimate this, and fail to appropriately measure ROI.
  • Plan and prioritize incremental goals, both short and long-term goals (i.e: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 10 years), prior to initiation, from each stakeholder’s perspective. This should help overcome common challenges faced during acceptance, and adoption, of CRM software.
  • Find the right technology platform and right technology partner.
  • In-sourcing vs Outsourcing: Know what best for your business, at a particular point in time, every time. It is critical to factor in the skills required to support and manage your CRM in-house, vs via a technology partner. Businesses fail to factor in the varying cost of skills, across a time-line.

2. Criticality of business process design
  • Businesses often fail to consider the impact of their business processes maturity, on user adoption, while defining requirements or goals. Mature business processes are often well defined, however difficult to implement and adopt, due to the intricate nature of inter-dependencies.
    Business Process Design is Critical for success
    Fig: Business Process Design is Critical for success

  • Mature business processes will often have large volumes of historical data, which may not always be meaningful or necessary. It takes considerable effort to process, analyse, interpret and store large volumes of data, across disparate systems. The cost of deriving meaning from large historical data sets, often outweighs the intelligence and usefulness derived from it. Ensure appropriate data retention and archival policies are established.
  • In addition to process maturity, it is also critical to understand and measure, the maturity level of end-users. Mature business processes, coupled with an immature user base, is a recipe for disaster. This leads to multiple challenges in ensuring user adoption, especially so, due to the perceived usability of your CRM.
  • Don’t get too greedy when defining processes and goals – think agile – lean processes and incremental goals, which are dependant and sequential in nature, is a must.

3. Strengthen customer connect and develop comprehensive customer profiles using your CRM
  • The age-old adage of “The Customer is King”, has now evolved to “The Customer is Omnipresent”, thanks to social media and other technological advancements in customer preference mining. Todays customer is hyper-active (online), hyper-aware, likes to share their opinions on public forums, is fickle minded, and used to instant gratification.
  • Cross-Channel Campaign Management has never been as important and critical for your success, as it is today. Engaging your customers across multiple channels, in order to deliver a seamless cross-channel customer journey, will get you your customers attention, interest and business, repeatedly. Be where your customers are.

    CRM Cross Channel Capability: What others leverage
    Fig: CRM Cross Channel Capability: What others leverage

  • Due to ever increasing criticality of cross-channel customer engagement, it is equally important (and difficult) for businesses to have a 360 degree view of their customer, and interactions with customers, using their CRM. Having a CRM designed to operate and scale across multiple channels is imperative.
  • IDC calculates that AI associated with CRM activities will boost global business revenue from the beginning of 2017 to the end of 2021 by $1.1 trillion. CRM systems which are designed to scale and evolve with changing technological trends, out of the box, is the way forward. Think AI/ML, IoT, Blockchain, etc. This helps businesses stay on top of technological advancements without bearing the associated cost of change.

Customer Engagement Leaders Source
Fig: Customer Engagement Leaders Source: Gartner Magic Quadrant Report

In order for any business to successfully drive their CRM to the next level, a system which is designed to match your unique business processes, which engages with your customers across multiple channels, and allows you to ride the technological wave with ease (and without associated cost implications) is the way forward.
Choosing the right CRM platform coupled with the right technology partner, will help businesses stay ahead of the curve. So when it comes to CRMs, one size does not fit all…..following a multi-pronged approach to best suit your unique needs, is the way forward.

Written by Chaitanya Pandya , Head- Customer Success at Eternus Solutions

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