The Right CRM Helps Staff to Create a Great Customer Experience

Judging by successful projects productivity gains of 70% have been claimed, sales up, profits up, staff morale up

Making a start on the CRM Journey

It is hard to think of an example of an organisation that does not have a large number of relationships with people in other organisations, or indeed individuals, so it’s easy to say that everyone needs a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system).  The right one will bring unimaginable benefits; a wrong one can be financially risky.

So, making a start depends a little on what your organisation is doing right now: Looking to replace a system that didn’t work out or planning to upgrade a current way of managing relationships that is not quite a relationship database; eg. using spreadsheets or paper? There are plenty of opinions on how to deal with this, but a lot depends on the kind of organisation you are in. There is a list of over 500 known CRM’s at Just ask Google and you will have many more sites, services, consultancies and system developers. At this point bring your team together and acknowledge how little you understand. Consider the risks as well as the potential rewards. CRM’s are very different one from another, there is no agreed definition of what CRM is, so there are many wrong choices in that list.

There are published reviews of small groups of CRM’s of different types at places like Ziff-Davis and My Indeed I was quite taken by the approach proposed by Neil Davey. Download at:

( ) For many types of small to medium business enterprise this is an excellent way to reduce the size of the problem…..  with a little homework you could get you started and have something working for one department in a few months (With a small sales team less than 5, a few days). Keep your first project small and use it to learn. Be prepared to change if it’s not working. Write it off to experience; CRM is a learning journey.

With diligent analysis you may believe that you can get it right first time. It is a most laudable source of confidence to try. The most important reason to recognise that CRM is a journey is to keep your focus on learning. The ‘right first time’ objective may be the justification for a large project  to implement  a sophisticated system. The other alternative is fail-small, fail cheap, learn big, and move on. The My Customer paper will take you through to a prudent start project. After a learning year you should take stock of what you know about how to get the benefit of CRM onto the bottom line. This knowledge is what will take you through the next project; a) Got it right; expand!  b)Know what we should have asked for; move on!!!

Have a look at the Marketplace- Don’t panic!

There are reviews of the CRM marketplace made by analysts at Forrester, Ovum, Nucleus and Gartner. They also have sub-groupings for sales, service, social media etc.

It would be a miracle if there was a simple formula that would enable you to home in on a shortlist of say 3 products, have a couple of supplier presentations and make a decision. To be fair, it probably would not be too much of a disaster if you start with an inexpensive CRM with low-end functionality and become disappointed after a few weeks. We offer a ‘nursery CRM’ option for just that reason.

The bigger your investment and number of users, the more you will want to have some assurance that you are making the right choice, and that’s what this Blog is about.

Understand Your Business

There are for a start many types of relationship target (Person/organisation) and when looking at purpose-driven relationships the word ‘customer’ is too narrow; perhaps we should discuss ‘stakeholder relationships’. Perhaps the systems should be called SRM’s. For your organisation, can you list the targets and the objectives of each relationship purpose, and identify the staff members who are the prime actors at each ‘touch point’ of the stakeholder interface?

In simple sales team language, a sales person contacts a buyer in a prospect organisation and engages in a discussion of need/budget, resulting in an opportunity and ultimately a purchase, or a lost deal. A sales system meeting this need might be a suitable start point.

Compile an inventory of contact touch points, transaction processes and staff members to see how and where relationship systems could be of value. Maybe your start point is the sales department, maybe it isn’t. The CRM journey or perhaps more correctly the SRM Journey begins with a first step. Pick one set of needs, not the whole of the corporate relationship repertoire and implement a solution, learning on the way what relationship database is all about in a limited way. Discover the customisation options, development platform designs, and costs needed for administrative processes.

CRM Readiness

Finally, before attempting to select a software product for your first deployment, undertake a CRM Readiness study (you may need to engage a reputable consultant). Within your limited project department, identify the processes where CRM/(SRM?) support is needed and quantify the way that a benefit will enhance the bottom line. Assign ownership of the ROI process. It is vital that the anticipated benefits have senior management accountability on each element.

It is quite common for some managers to suggest that all relationship management needs are basically the same and the organisation should invest in a single CRM product that ‘does everything’, thus moving more quickly and saving money. With proper analysis they argue, the team will get it right first time. Unsurprisingly many of the CRM developers support this view. History says different! Upwards of 2/3 of all CRM projects have been failing to deliver for over 20 years. Lessons if they are learned are not being shared very publicly so mistakes are continually repeated.

Two comments we hear when we are with failed project people are first, that everyone thought that CRM would be easy and secondly that delegating to specialists and user staff would be democratic. With this approach there was no business context to guide customisation work, and no leadership to inspire users.  It is quite common for the software to be working to specification but users are often failing to put the data in. In your CRM readiness preparations, it is vital to secure senior management leadership every step of the way, and locate project control within the user department.

Other Issues for Other Blog Posts

-CRM design types need some thought. Is process compliance more important than ease of use? Why can’t you have both?

-Does ‘one-size-fits-all’ mean an overly complex and excessively feature-rich system people don’t use?

-If you seek ‘ease of use’ in demonstrations, how will inexperienced staff recognise an intuitive interface?

-Are business analysts aware that elaborate processes lead to staff increases?

-Clunky interfaces are claimed to slow people down and make them less effective. Does service quality suffer?

-Agility varies a lot. In rapidly-changing times/industries, will the customisations be obsolete before they reach payback?

-Are process development resources to be centralised;  Might this create a resource bottleneck? 

-Is central process development and control favoured? Is the risk of losing user buy-in recognised?

-Can process ownership be devolved to users? Can user staff amend processes as times change? Some CRM’s allow this; some don’t.

-Is your CRM shortlist made up of products that are ‘top of the market’, are they all ‘do-everything’ designs??