Customer Relationship Management

12 Steps To Building CRM Infrastructure

  1. Define a vision of integrated CRM. Understand what services and products you want to offer your customers and how you want to track customer interactions. It’s critical to look at the whole relationship with the customer and not limit yourself to a stovepipe view.

  2. Understand the customer. How does he or she use the existing products and services you offer? What is good or bad about the current process from the customer’s perspective?

  3. Develop a business case. Analyze where you currently stand and where you need to go. Do not use subpar technology as an excuse for inaction. There will always be technical weaknesses.

  4. Evaluate current readiness. Determine your company’s position relative to the competition. Assess the ability of existing sales and service infrastructures to gain and retain existing customers.

  5. Establish the CRM strategy and specific objectives. Adopt a strategy consistent with the overall company strategy. Involve marketing, sales, and service organizations, and understand how each deal with customers. Ask about current and future product and sales offerings.

  6. Evaluate appropriate applications with an uncompromising focus on ease of doing business. Ensure that the applications meet today’s needs and the strategic direction of the firm. Look at the applications from an integrated viewpoint.

  7. Take the customer’s view, not the product or account view. After selecting an application, ensure that the process redesign will benefit and retain the customer.

  8. Identify and target quick wins. Set aggressive and realistic milestones. Accomplish attainable objectives early in the process to build support and ensure completion. This allows you to implement incrementally and successfully. Celebrate your successes along the way.

  9. Put the ownership of the end-to-end project in the hands of a single manager. Partner your team members with experienced business leaders and developers who understand how to deliver and deploy integrated applications.

  10. Implement in stages. Due to the cost complexity of CRM, a staged approach will offer a greater chance of success and allow for continuous evaluation of strategy. Also, challenge the solution. The usefulness and benefits of a CRM strategy constantly change in the real world. Be ready for it. Be proactive about change.

  11. Be sure to create a closed-loop CRM environment. The goal of the CRM strategy is zero leakage of information. As customers contact the company, regardless of the channel, purpose, or outcome of the interaction, make sure it is captured.

  12. Finally, create concrete measurements goals. Through ongoing measurement and continuous improvement, you will be able to monitor the project and ensure its success.

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Challenges in Implementing CRM

Source: Customer Relationship Management

Organization resistance to CRM is unfortunate, but almost inevitable. The organizational issues that companies must tackle to implement CRM include the following:

  • CRM may reduce an individual business unit’s contribution, even though the whole company benefits. Current incentive systems work against CRM because they reward only part of the customer’s relationship with the company. Therefore, a sales manager who is evaluated on individual product sales has no vested interest in ensuring that the service organization is meeting the needs of the customer. Most companies today lack financial incentive programs that promote CRM.

  • CRM requires making a careful transition from an existing “silo-centric” infrastructure to an integrated customer-centric infrastructure. Over the years, however, large enterprises have built, bought, or inherited a wide variety of customer management applications. Some of this software is proprietary and will be difficult to share across departments.
  • Organizations with global operations must manage customer interactions in different languages, time zones, currencies, and regulatory environments. In this environment, providing consistent, customized service is difficult to accomplish using traditional technology.

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New CRM Architecture Organizational

What’s new is the customer-centered nature of applications, which means organizing CRM processes around the customer, rather than marketing, sales, or any other internal functions. Measurements and feedback from the customer drive improvements in the CRM process. The customer’s viewpoint becomes an integral part of the process, allowing it to change with the customer’s needs. In other words, companies base their actions not on the priorities of functional fiefdoms, but on the overall corporate objective of providing customer satisfaction.

The core CRM process competencies are cross-selling and up-selling, direct marketing and fulfillment, customer service and support, store front and field service and retention management.

Cross-Selling and Up-Selling

Cross-sell and up-sell software typically include the capability to quality prospects, track contacts, and refer them to salespersons when appropriate. Even-driven marketing is one aspect of cross-selling that companies are beginning to recognize as a strategic advantage for their marketing departments. By implementing a cross-sell strategy, complete with the applications necessary to track customer contacts, triggers can be established to identify prospects for additional sales. For example, in a bank an event would be a large deposit, which would then trigger a salesperson to call the customer and ask if he or she would be interested in investment options.

Direct Marketing and Fulfillment

Marketing automation is critical as organizations grow larger. Why? It becomes more difficult to manage multiple, simultaneous programs and track costs across multiple channels. Campaign management, a direct marketing process, allows companies to manage, integrate, and leverage marketing programs by automating such tasks as managing responses, qualifying leads, and arranging logistical aspects of events.

Customer Service and Support

Customer support provides customer care and other services. The applications include support for service request management, account management, contact and activity management, customer surveys, return material authorizations, and detailed service agreements. These discrete applications work together to ensure that customer service representatives can quickly assign, create, and manager service requests, as well as look up detailed information about customer service contracts, contacts, and activities.


Field Service Operations

Field service software provides service organizations with features for scheduling and dispatching repair personnel, managing inventory and logistics, and handling contracts and accounting. More and more, the field service function plays a role in increasing revenues.

Retention Management

Your resources are valuable: Spend them wisely on the customers who count. Effective CRM must be based on differentiating customers based on account and transaction histories. Today, very few organizations are able to make these distinctions. The ability to effectively segment customers depends on decision support technology, which most executives see as a powerful enabler of CRM.

Effective decision support depends on the ability to gather customer information at great levels of detail. Detailed knowledge about customers allows companies to treat all customers individually and, in many cases, disengage from or “fire” customers who are high-maintenance, low-margin prospects.

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