For many companies CRM is a system that technology has purchased. It is a really cumbersome system to maintain, Sales are completely frustrated with having to enter in a lot of data. However, in reality CRM is not a system at all.
CRM is all about the customer. It is how the business approaches the relationship with the customer. A good and consistent partnership with the customer leads to loyal customers and customer retention. In order to have a consistent partnership, it is important to know more about the customer. This understanding of the customer comes from having a well implemented decision based information system which can give you a 360 degree view of every interaction with the customer and of your organization.
How do we get started with CRM?
- CRM is best driven by the top executive leadership. The top executive leadership should first understand what CRM is and how it can help them. They must then clearly define specific goals and expectations from CRM.
- Many people would say that step 2 is to analyse vendors. I would differ and say step 2 is understanding the company’s approach to the customers. A business process mapping exercise is a good way to understand the customer lifecycle. It is a very good idea at this point to create a team of “super-users” from different CRM areas (sales, marketing, service) who could identify the problems they face today and the kind of information they need which would enable you to make CRM useful for the company.
- Once the mapping exercise is over a good picture would emerge about the gaps in the company and at this point an objective evaluation of vendors could be undertaken. It would help to understand which vendor or software can really meet the needs of the company.
- Once a vendor is selected, a program team should be formed within the company which should consist of business and technology members who can assist with the implementation and provide different viewpoints. The business super user team created above can then also assist with driving CRM adoption.
- The next step is the actual implementation itself, its integration into the daily life and with other systems.
- As the CRM system is being implemented, the organization will undergo changes. It would be best to use this time to train people on an understanding of CRM, how it can help them, to socialize the new processes and get feedback. Done properly, this exercise can really energize people and help the company with adoption of CRM and realization of business goals and revenue.
- The system is now ready to go live and be used in a production environment. But business today is fast paced and dynamic and change is the only constant. It is important to have a good relationship with the vendor and to have a process in place for managing the system.
The ease of use with which you can customize Salesforce using the force.com platform and the inbuilt reporting capabilities have helped to make it the leading CRM software available today.
To find out more about CRM check the Types of CRM blog post