Thursday, January 24, 2008

CRM - The Human Factor

Although I am a proponent of CRM software and database management, I have never, nor will I run across a software solution that provides Complete CRM. On a note of credibility, my company, Wright Solutions is partnered with a few CRM software providers whom will not be referenced anywhere in this post, or this series. I want you to understand the depth of my committment to the fundamentals of human CRM.

Companies in the market for CRM solutions actually are in need of better managing relationships with their customers, and most are looking at CRM applications as the answer. I am not about to suggest that any of the well designed and reliable IT solutions are not a significant piece of the puzzle. I will say that alone, they are not 'the answer'. Three significant misconceptions continue to impede the successful implementation of CRM systems or upgrades. The first myth is that CRM is a software solution, secondly that CRM is a tactic and lastly that satisfied customers are loyal customers. The truth is that CRM is a people driven - not a software solution, CRM is a strategy not a tactic, and satisfied customers are not necessarily loyal.

Busting the myths - the 5 W's of Customer Relations.

Myth #1. CRM is a Software Solution. Who - If you spend $25,000 on the installation and implementation of a CRM system, and six months down the road you have no increase in the number of customers regularly repeating business with you, Who is accountable? What - If your employees do not 'buy in' to the new system, failing to input or update customer information correctly, What results will your $25,000 investment produce? Why - Have you purchased and introduced this new software? If your answer is in any way similar to the following statement, you are guaranteeing failure: Our employees never seem to have the time, or just don't consistently follow up with our customers. Where - Are you measuring and monitoring the results produced by your CRM software at the end of the process? If you are, how do you know the quality of the data initially input by front line staff? When - Time, a commodity always in demand, always in short supply. Two thoughts on time: If one of the reasons you made this investment was due to the fact that your employees didn't follow up with your customers, what makes you think they'll now have or take the time to accurately update records in the system? And have you made provisions for one or more people to have the extra time needed to monitor and review the output of the system for errors, duplications or unique circumstances?

Having put all that out on the table, I'm sure (well, actually I'm hoping) that I've left you with more questions. "If this great new IT solution is not the whole answer, what is?", "I've already made the investment, how do I ensure its success?", "We've trained and offered incentives to our employees, they claim to be following proceedures, but still our numbers haven't gone up. What do we do now?" ... The possibilities here are limitless!

From my perspective, I say GOOD! It means I've succeeded in reaching my goal for today. To provide food for thought, to provide incentive for you to question and examine what you are doing today and what results you are getting is a tremendous step towards a solution. Success never comes by way of quick fixes or trendy technology. You will arrive at success only once you have honestly assessed the gap and determined where you are today. If you also have a clear view of where you want to go tomorrow, we can begin to size up that gap and decide how to bridge it.

How to do that begins with the discussion of the next myth: CRM is a tactic. My next post will bust that myth in brief as we've done here with the first.

Over the course of this series we will be taking an honest look at where many businesses are today - The real deal, I don't care too much for 'political correctness' or 'beating around the bush'. Some may not like my approach, but those that follow me through, those that suffer the unease of examining and questioning your 'comfort zone' will find themselves ahead of the game and significantly improving their success.

Until next time, I implore you to change your viewpoint, get down on the ground, climb a ladder, anything to look at your business, your employees, your customers and your processes from a different perspective. I also encourage you to read. If you haven't looked at a book on customer service since your college days, do it now. Some of my favourites are: "The Butterfly Customer: Capturing the Loyalty of Today's Elusive Consumer", "Customer Tells : Deliver World Class Customer Service Using Championship Poker Strategies" and "Are You Being Served Yet?: Customer Service Evolution".

Thanks for reading. I wish you all success at learning something new today.

Teresa Wright is an exceptionally inspired and flexible writer, poet, artist and business owner. At 40 years of age she has recently pursued her dream of self-employment with the start-up of her consulting company, Wright Solutions to better balance life, work, family and love. Having written poetry for more than 25 years now, Teresa has developed a confidence that attracts and captivates her readers. Her style can only be described as raw, honest and emotional. She writes from deep within her soul, from an understanding of hope and survival shaped during many years of some of life?s most sorrowful challenges. This survivor has the ability to express universal emotions exquisitely ? her poetry will touch your heart. With the experience from a 20 year career in Customer Service, managing customer relationships in 6 diverse industries Teresa Wright is a skilled veteran in the field. She is adept not only at effectively identifying customer needs, and with loyalty driven communication, but also at recognizing the characteristics of the profitable customer.

Visit us at Wright Solutions

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