Assembling an Effective CRM Strategy Leads to Successful Implementations

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Firms of all sizes in multiple industries across the globe are turning to CRM to attain and maintain a competitive advantage. Companies rely on CRM solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011, to track valuable client information, such as contact data, demographics, interaction activity, transaction history, key decision makers, influential stakeholders, and third-party relationships with vendors, consultants, partners, and lead sources. Top-tier firms further analyze and interpret their captured customer data to have a deeper understanding of their client base. Client preferences, needs, concerns, and likelihood of switching can be anticipated and a customer’s lifetime value to the company can be measured and forecasted. All of these newfound useful insights and knowledge can be converted into actionable client, relationship, and business intelligence, which can then be shared throughout the organization and ultimately used to better serve and meet the needs of customers. Furthermore, firms can identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities more easily now and also can deliver more value to their most profitable and loyal customers. Additionally, the decision-support capabilities of CRM 2011 allow firms to identify high-growth target market segments and prospects.

CRM technology by itself does not improve revenue and profitability, though; nor does the data stored within the CRM system. Instead, CRM is more a business strategy built upon instilling a customer-centric culture and promoting customer loyalty and satisfaction. Firms with a comprehensive CRM strategy that is tightly intertwined with an overall corporate strategic vision are able to more effectively respond and adapt to competitive threats, economic pressures, and market and industry trends. Prior to implementing a CRM tool, though, firms need to first conduct advanced planning and have their CRM strategy and goals formalized. Doing so will maximize a firm’s ROI and minimize TCO.

As previously noted here, executive sponsors of the CRM initiative must constantly communicate to the user base how adopting a CRM strategy and implementing a CRM solution will help the organization meet its business objectives. The executive sponsors should be highly visible and vocal and stress that business processes must be reviewed and redesigned as needed before implementing the chosen CRM system. How particular processes impact, interact, and integrate with other departments and offices is critical. Failure to have the framework for business processes reengineered and the related personnel finalized and documented could possibly delay the progress of a CRM implementation. It is very challenging for users across multiple departments to absorb changes to their roles and processes while also attempting to learn and be trained on a new CRM system, or any system, for that matter. In such a case, user adoption rates could suffer. On the other hand, if users and teams have already engaged in business process discussions prior to discovery, requirements gathering, and training sessions, they will be more confident and comfortable in their defined role. Thus, they will be more inclined to share their needs and more receptive to learning the new system, for they desire to attain more efficiencies and make their job easier. Moreover, upon witnessing how the intuitive, flexible, and extensible Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 can facilitate or even possibly automate a particular recently refined core business process, users will often be very eager to start using the system right away.

Over the course of a CRM 2011 implementation, it will definitely become evident to users that its robust and scalable platform can be customized and configured to support and improve the delivery of unique business processes and align with the strategic business goals of departments, management, and C-level execs. Having a CRM strategy and its supporting unique business processes clearly formulated and widely communicated early on will definitely lay the foundation for a successful CRM 2011 implementation and lead to higher user adoption.

Post by: Kevin Wessels, Customer Effective

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