In the early days of CRM there was no cloud, no wide range of options, and nowhere near the complexity these tools provide for integration. That being said the adoption rates for most CRM products floundered in the 25-35 percent range because of the way the products were introduced to companies and how they were implemented. All practitioners share some level of blame but so do most organizations. The problem back then is that technology was big and complex and nothing was easy. Add in sales and customer service professionals that are under high demand to deliver for their respective teams and there is no doubt why many firms went down with the ship when they made their first or second efforts on CRM.
Fast forward to today and we have unbelievably flexible CRM tools in the cloud that offer all the bells and whistles you would ever want in a platform or a feature set. When you look at what big players like Salesforce and Microsoft and Oracle have done it’s like and amusement park for CRM junkies like me. Add in what players like Zoho and Sage are doing for the mid market (or SME as it is often referred to) and it is amazing to see what tools exist for literally every size company and every price point. So, we must be reaching CRM nirvana, right? Even the pundits out there areying that we are now starting to reach the outer limits of CRM innovation.
Not so fast my friends. Unfortunately, for those of us who work in this market assisting companies with their initial or ongoing enhancements to their CRM initiatives, there is an ugly truth when it comes to making CRM a meaningful venture that provides not only efficiency but competitive advantage. Even after all of the advances in technology and the cloud we haven’t even reached the 50% mark for successful implementations across the CRM universe. The reasons are many and the purpose of this article is not to discourage but to let people know they are not alone. People moving from CRM to CRM is still relatively high and many customers are regularly raising their hands asking for help.
So here are a few tell tale signs that your CRM implementation is struggling and some tips for getting back on track:
- CRM Login Statistics – There is no better indicator of a troubled system than reviewing login details and finding out that more than a few people are not using the system. One or two can be handled individually but when numbers of people are not logging in the best thing to do is review with the team what CRM does not provide that they need or the configuration may be too complex or daunting for their job description.
- Incomplete Data – Using a CRM needs to provide benefit to a user and not just the company that employs them. We often find lots of missing data and this can cause lots of problems at many levels. One cause may be that users don’t see what the benefits are to their individual roles when asking for the data or that data points are not as valuable as originally envisioned. Data augmentation can help but so can cleaning up the system so that it is relevant to your current business needs.
- Circumventing the System – Too often we find that in many organizations a CRM system is rolled out and there are specific expectations and requirements as a function of a user’s role in your company. Then, based on any number of factors, we then hear from employees that the same rules don’t apply to all employees. Using a CRM system effectively relies on a certain level of corporate discipline in order to reach results.
- System Design – When many firms start taking on CRM they do it quickly with little attention to just the specific functions that people need to have in order to get their job done. It’s amazing how many times we come in to help someone and many of the “out of the box” functions that are not relevant to an organization are still present and making the day to day kluge and complicated. Working with a consultant to streamline the solution can get you off and running before you know it.
- No Integration – Even for smaller companies there is great value in integrating things like an ERP system. When users have to rely on each other with email and phone calls for information that should be readily available they spend less and less time in the system that should make their lives easier. With the tools in many of today’s CRM platforms integration is easier than you think and very powerful for day to day tasks as well as marketing and analytics.
This is by no means an exhaustive list but these items are certainly a good start for understanding where your CRM struggles may lie. The most important thing is to have an expert take a look and do some type of forensics with you to help you understand where your quick wins might be in getting you down the path to CRM success.