Customer Relationship Management needs to be a strategy that's focused on creating the best possible customer experience, supported by well defined processes that are enabled by technology and with everything being driven by managers and staff committed to a customer-centric culture.
In the last few days I have been facilitating focus groups for a research study in Australia being conducted by The Eventful Group who are running a big CRM conference in Melbourne in July 2015. So far we've done half-day workshops in three cities with approximately 80 people ranging from senior business leaders to IT system managers. We asked the participants what they believed the biggest challenges and burning issues are in Customer Experience, and we deliberately avoided steering the conversation toward CRM software.
But CRM software quickly emerged as a burning issue and I made the comment that some research states 70% of CRM software implementations fail. I asked for a show of hands: "Who here regards their CRM software implementation a success?" On average, less than 25% and in Brisbane it was approximately 15%. Understand that I am a strong advocate for CRM software and I believe it's an essential technology for every organization. I was, after all, the Managing Director for a global CRM vendor in Australia before leaving the corporate world in September 2012 to start my RSVPselling consulting business and career as a keynote speaker.
But here is the epiphany I had in working with these focus groups and capturing their issues and insights: Customer Relationship Management has been hijacked by software technology.
A common theme with delegates in these research groups was that they never ask for funding for CRM because 'CRM as a dirty word'. This is because of the reputation that software projects have for being difficult, expensive and failing to deliver the desired business outcomes. Instead they talk about 'customer experience' initiatives and CRM is merely one piece of the puzzle (marketing automation, portals, mobility, social, etc.).
There will be a research paper released early next year by The Eventful Group and I'll post details in advance but here are some of the strongest themes that emerged from delegates:
1. Ensure that your corporate mission and values are aligned with the philosophy of customer-centricity.
2. Create a 'customer experience strategy' before anything else and ensure all of the organization is committed to it. Change management and executive commitment are essential.
3. Design quality end-to-end customer experiences focused on processes incorporating the entire customer life-cycle as they engage with marketing, website, social, call center, inside sales and field sales, solution architects, services, implementation, on-boarding and training, support, renewals and upsell or upgrades.
4. Build tailored interfaces and processes for staff, partners and customers and provide relevant interfaces though any channel including web, mobile, call center, field sales or social.
5. Create the right KPIs and clarity in execution and management for every role in your team.
6. Technology should come last and must deliver tailored relevance to empower every interaction.
7. Automate everything possible to drive quality, consistency and efficiency.
Customer Relationship Management should be a strategy, and Customer Experience Management should be positioned above CRM as a technology.
Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published in LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award winning blog. Also visit Tony's keynote speaker website at www.TonyHughes.com.au or his sales methodology website at http://www.rsvpselling.com/.
Main image photo by Flickr: cwillbounds
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