Originally written for Greater China CRM; By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant, https://iunctura.com/
Too often CRM implementation starts with a barrage of facts, figures, and methods that quite frankly can be overwhelming. If your CRM team has stopped, stalled, or needs a little more steam; then this message is for you. Here is a systematic method to improve your CRM implementation with critical thinking.
This method begins sequentially with assessment working through to measuring results. While the actual implementation effort may take months, this message walks you through the entire process so you can get started today. Learn the steps used by experts worldwide for CRM implementation. Even learn how to improve your existing CRM system.
Completely read this document, you will not want to miss anything.
You are responsible to your company and every individual who will come in contact with your CRM system to produce desirable results. In order to know what is considered desirable document (1) your business objectives, (2) employee job roles in relation to the CRM environment, and (3) your key customer interaction points.
This step happens even before installing software, possibly before selecting a solution. This step shows you what kind of CRM you are already doing. That is right, whether you currently have CRM software in place or any formal customer related processes; if you have customers you are using customer relationship management. CRM is more than software, but also includes the tracking of anything done to retain customers and build loyalty.
This step helps you determine what you already have in place. It shows you what would be considered an improvement, and what expectations each party has for those points where new processes or software might be implemented.
In looking at your current situation, and ask yourself:
Throughout this document, think about each element from your customers prospective. To know where you stand gives you a better perspective to where you may go. A full assessment and true picture of your organization will produce the best results in this method.
Using all you know about your customer process to apply effort in the one area, that if addressed would bring you significantly closer to your business objectives. Many businesses become crippled by trying to do too many things at once, spreading resources too thin to be effective anywhere. The key of this step is to (1) select one idea at a time for implementation, (2) use a 3-point measure for each, and (3) select points of influence for immediate action.
It is simple corporate triage. A bruise on the head waits for the broken arm -- tackle those things that bring you the greatest results first. Many businesses fail in CRM because they start by implementing the easy wins, never getting to functions that can significantly influence the bottom line. When you address high impact activities first, the easy tasks usually take care of themselves.
Ask and think about the following questions:
The information you have gathered will support the next and most important phase of implementation. Be sure you have gathered enough to have a clear picture of your CRM efforts. Know how you track customers, how you interact with them, and how that relates to your business objectives before moving to the next step.
At this step, it is time to take one idea (task or action) gained from your research so far, and move forward on CRM implementation. Remember, your staff must continue to serve your customer during this change in CRM; take care not to interrupt what you already do well. This multiphase implementation cycles through this process by (1) selecting a pilot group for implementation, (2) implementing while observing test cases, and (3) then rolling out functionality to remaining users as appropriate.
In order to produce the greatest return on investment with your CRM software implementation you must apply action in functional layers. The first layer is your baseline system with functionality matching your old system. Then each layer after that improves on functionality while training users how to benefit improve their own productivity and enhance the customer's experience.
Considers these questions as you progress through implementation:
If installing new software for the first time, start with a small pilot group and using these questions build out to support your entire organizations. Most companies only perform this step, stopping here will produce only half the results you deserve. This is probably the longest and most involved step in this process, but made successful with simple planning and a critical analysis provided here.
Your implementation will not install every feature and function of your CRM software in one sweeping effort. It will provide a new level of functionality without major disturbances in your daily operations. In this step, develop an understanding of (1) successes gained through action, (2) any delays or unseen events experienced, and (3) how to overcome such challenges in the next iteration. If you dump CRM on users you lose the opportunity to gain full buy-in, the method presented here progressively improves current skills with minimal end-user resistance.
In the use of any new process, a certain level of change management is required. This method for CRM implementation handles change as it gradually enhances your ability to serve customers. In addition, provides feedback loops necessary to measure real progress with a minimum down time. You will learn and be able to adjust every step for maximum results.
To develop an understanding of implementation gains, consider these questions:
Lessons learned are your biggest asset in the CRM implementation process. Use what you have learned to adjust your efforts to achieve better results in your next implementation phase. Being honest about your shortcomings produces maximum results.
While the previous step was primarily concerned with external measures of CRM implementation, this step takes a critical look at internal measures. Here you have the opportunity to (1) check performance measures, (2) derive the financial value of CRM implementation actions, and (3) verify the projects relevance with business objectives. This step gathers evidence to help you determine if you should continue CRM efforts. If you do not produce any results (or potential for results in a reasonable period), there is no reason to continue implementation.
The method demonstrated here consists of adding each layer of CRM functionality to the previous, testing, and reviewing progress before continuing. This circular process minimizes your risk while addressing change management issues in the implementation. Your customer's will see gradual improvements rather than a huge leap ahead in performance followed by a decline. This method reduces front-end costs, and provides supporting evidence of any positive effort.
Before you start your next phase of implementation, answer these questions:
This internal measures help plan the next phase of implementation. Through this process, you are building on your own successes while minimizing the risk to your organization. Before you start another implementation phase, it is important to go over your assumptions to check yourself against available facts.
In this last step, gather facts supporting your implementation for your final report. You are producing a check that previous steps were truly unbiased and fact based. Here you will (1) document key points, (2) layout a foundation for the next phase, and (3) document facts supporting current successes.
Too often implementations go on with hidden problems that management feels it can iron out later. These small but significant problems eat away at productivity, while increasing overhead and frustrating customers. This critical and fact based implementation eliminates these challenges with purposeful action.
Consider these questions when compiling facts that support improvements:
Some companies want to push through an entire CRM implementation in one forward driving motion. A linear approach does not take into consideration the changes created from their own efforts. In a linear model, the assumptions used create the implementation plan are invalid as soon as efforts are applied to the people in a company. These facts help you gauge your performance and keep you on track.
While some steps in this implementation method will take as little as 30-minutes, others require a more critical analysis. These questions are just a sample of what to consider as your CRM implementation unfolds. After you are finished with your first iteration, return to step one and start over again with new improvements.
The entire CRM implementation can take from 12 to 18 months depending on the number of seats and complexity of your CRM efforts. The key benefit of this method is at the end of each short implementation phase you have a function system to do work with. No waiting for CRM software to be completely installed, you can start training users as soon as you start your first phase of implementation.
Each layer of implementation gives you a better understanding of customer desires, business objectives, and a clearer understanding of the systems within your organization. While a complex method for CRM implementation, it takes advantage of the principle of incremental improvement.
Instead of rapid growth over a short period followed by a period of recovery then performance stabilizing, an incremental method brings you small increases in growth followed by consistent periods of stabilization. Over time, the incremental method provides better constancy from the customers prospective, which reflects well on your ability to serve them.
One major draw back of this method is you can easily become stuck in a particular stage because they are putting too much effort into thinking and not enough into action. Work quickly gathering and verifying information, spend most of your time in application and testing. You will get results with small steps if most of your time is spent doing something that moves you towards your business objectives.
Do not get stuck in analysis paralysis. You can do something today to bring your business closer to real results in CRM. No matter where you stand now, you have the tools to improve your customer's experience.
How will you start improving your customer relationships today?
© 2003 Justin Hitt, All rights reserved.
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Justin Hitt is a strategic relations consultant and the author of "27 Ways to CRM Return on Investment" (Tool Kit) available on-line. For more information, visit https://iunctura.com/re/crm-roi