In a modern digital economy, it’s not enough to run a business that puts customers at the center. Enterprises have to surrender to the idea that customers are in the driver’s seat. What that means is that enterprises must create a frictionless yet intimate customer relationship and then let the customer choose when and how to engage. There are a number of strategies and technologies to enable this, and for most, customer relationship management (CRM) will sit at the center. But enterprises often get tripped up on the complexities of global CRM initiatives, and end up spending too much time and too much money for too little benefit.
The trouble is not necessarily with the CRM software and services, but with how it is deployed. There is a smarter way. By starting with a simplified solution based on fundamental business processes that stretch across the organization, rather than leading with a smaller, customized solution in a particular region or business line, enterprises can train a large swath of end users all together and capture broad benefits early on. From there, using agile practices similar to those in DevOps, enterprises can add customizations iteratively. The sooner CRM is working for the business, the sooner the business will succeed in today’s customer-driven economy.
Aim high, but start simple
CRM is one of those technologies that business users get, at least in theory. That’s because they know that improving customer relationships improves sales, which in turn improves revenue. Putting CRM into practice is harder. Like any other enterprise application, CRM software is complex and data driven, so implementations need to be well planned, well executed and well supported, not only by C-level executives but also by the end users themselves. Employees need to have a say in CRM processes and practices and need to know how to use the system well, if the business is going to experience CRM’s rewards.
When it comes to implementing a new CRM platform, the business is always going to ask for the moon. But business users don’t have to implement CRM, IT does. And IT has to show success.
A simplified solution speeds the time it takes to acclimate users to a new platform and lowers the risk of costly project overruns. Starting simply with a global rollout and then leveraging agile customization in later stages of the deployment once all users are familiar with the CRM platform helps ensure that actual business needs and objectives are being met.
The risks of upfront customization
Starting simply may run counter to more conventional CRM implementations where all the customization decisions are made during the initial project scope, but designing a CRM platform solution with heavy customizations in the beginning can stifle flexibility, making it more difficult and costly to enact changes later as processes mature.