CRM projects: avoiding the common pitfalls
Craig Skinner outlines the critical steps businesses can take to increase their chances of a successful CRM project. Customers are the lifeblood of any business so it’s not surprising that CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems are seen as a business critical tool in more than 90 percent of businesses[i] with ten or more employees. But […]
Craig Skinner outlines the critical steps businesses can take to increase their chances of a successful CRM project.
Customers are the lifeblood of any business so it’s not surprising that CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems are seen as a business critical tool in more than 90 percent of businesses[i] with ten or more employees. But why is it that a huge percentage of CRM projects fail, and what can you do to increase your chances of a successful outcome?
Why do 50-70 percent of CRM projects fail[ii] once implemented – what are the common factors driving these failures?
The reality is that getting CRM right isn’t easy, as there are multiple traps that companies can fall into when trying to set up their systems and processes to better support their customers. Over 90 percent of businesses with more than ten employees recognise CRM systems as being a business critical tool yet evidence shows that most of these companies have struggled to get it right.
The vast majority of companies approaching Datacom to help them with their CRM journey are wanting us to course-correct or replace a CRM system that they’ve previously implemented and now isn’t meeting their needs.
When we talk to these organisations a number of common themes often appear that with the right support can easily be avoided. The typical traps that often lead to failure are things like;
- No clear CRM vision or strategy.
- Lack of executive buy-in and leadership.
- Ill-defined requirements and/or business processes.
- Organisations trying to do too much, too soon.
- Poor project management and communications.
- Scope creep.
- Unnecessary/ excessive customisation.
- Poor change management, training and adoption.
- Inability to track success.
- Lack of planned support and/or continuous improvement.
Now if you get the first two right, you’ll probably avoid some of the other traps but as you can see, having a successful CRM implementation is quite tricky, and the technology itself isn’t the golden ticket to success; it’s merely an enabler.
What are the steps a company can take to set their CRM project up for success?
There are plenty of measures that can be put in place to avoid these pitfalls, but let’s focus on three that we think are particularly important to get right;
- Clear vision and strategy,
- executive buy-in and leadership, and finally
- continuous improvement of your CRM post the initial implementation.
A CRM vision has two key outcomes – a desired end-state, and a clearly defined path to get there. Make sure that you define your business goals from an executive, management and end-user perspective. Make sure that your strategy is about improving your sales and service processes and your customers’ and end-users’ experience and productivity, vs just enabling inspection. Be clear about where your data will be mastered, how it will be shared and protected and think about your integrations strategy so that you can leverage data from other key business systems rather than having your CRM become yet another data silo.
Executive buy-in and leadership:
It seems obvious, but many businesses implement CRM systems with the main sponsor or champion being a passionate stakeholder such as a head of sales or service vs having proper executive sponsorship. Without the support and keen interest of the executive team, businesses will always struggle to achieve the benefits that a CRM should be able to deliver.
If it’s not a priority for your executive team/ leader, it won’t be a priority for the users, and your CRM will realise little value and die a slow death. Healthy, meaningful exec sponsorship ensures that goals, objectives and plans for the CRM project are well established and communicated, provides effective arbitration of significant issues or changes as they arise, and provides on-going support and incentives to ensure the continued use and development of the system. If your CRM is set up correctly it should be your single source of truth, and considered a business-critical tool by everyone.
Continuous improvement of your CRM post the initial implementation:
The mistake that a lot of businesses make when it comes to CRM is that they expect a system to solve their problems, or they focus primarily on the initial implementation vs looking at CRM as an evolving set of business processes and systems. Customers’ needs are continually changing, with most expecting businesses to keep up with their changing demands. If you’re not evolving the way that you use your CRM to meet those demands it’s likely you’ll lose some of those customers. It’s critical that you have an on-going programme of work to improve and evolve the use of your CRM, and that you have feedback mechanisms in place to ensure that your CRM is meeting the needs of your end users, and that they can see that you’re considering and, if appropriate, acting on that feedback.
Craig Skinner (pictured above) is Datacom’s Associate Director ANZ Salesforce Practice and the former MD of Salesforce NZ.