CRM pitfalls - Why is it so hard?

Exec buy in, particularly from the business

The problem: You may have the IT director, or marketing director on board, but how about the CEO? And CFO?

We suggest: Make sure you have a top level steering committee, and use it as a regular show and tell of what you're aiming to do, and where you are. Be absolutely clear from the start of the tangible measures to assess where you are, where you want to be, and how you get there.

The business case

The problem: This is one of Cantata's favourite topics. What can be particularly difficult are: defining the tangible financial benefits, and a favourite of finance directors, cost reduction. There is increasing cynicism about wild claims for revenue increase based on intangible "customer satisfaction" measures.

We suggest: Scope your CRM project to provide tangible and intangible benefits. If necessary, change your approach to show some financial benefit early on.

Knowing where you are and where you want to be

The problem: Most people start CRM initiatives without a clear idea of their current state of "CRM maturity", let alone where they aim to be. It's not enough to say, "We want to be better at servicing customers", or, "We want to know more about our customer base". What do you currently know and what will provide you with real business benefit?

We suggest: Measure what you can. Have benchmarks to measure against. Cantata has a model to do this; perhaps you have internal models yourself.

Keeping up the momentum

The problem: Many CRM projects stall after a year of great expenditure and little to show for it.

We suggest: Scope your project to show early and regular tangible benefits. This could be as simple as an early release where the users are very positive about it, or even better, one which shows some financial benefit. Don't get over-ambitious - a tiny, well received first implementation is far better than a delayed, expensive grand design that never quite lives up to expectations. Remember, this isn't just about technology - your early releases could involve training, or marketing material, as much as a contact centre implementation.

Getting it all right

The problem: CRM projects often come unstuck because they focus on an IT solution, or are run out of a small subset of the business.

We suggest: CRM isn't a single product, or achieved by a single department (IT, marketing or whoever). Make sure all the stakeholders are involved up-front, and all contribute to deciding how much involvement they need. In particular, make sure training and supporting material (collateral for your users) is ready with any system changes.