On a site dedicated to CRM best practice, and which celebrates simply successful CRM, should I be blogging about failure? If you're looking for tips and tricks to ensure the success of your CRM initiative then knowing what failure looks like is essential. If you know the warning signs to watch for then you should be able to get your CRM project back on track before too much damage is done.
Why is my CRM system failing?
There are many signs that the processes and tools you use to manage your customer relationships are failing. The following are some of the most common indicators that failure is fast approaching.
1. The original CRM project sponsor moves on and no-one fills the gap...
Having delivered the benefits of a properly implemented CRM project – the sponsor accepts a new job with more money, status or prestige. Great CRM projects have at their core a visionary individual. Their passion and commitment will help to drive usage, and encourage the change that is at the core great companies. If you lose your sponsor be prepared to step into the role yourself. With risk comes reward – so get ready for promotion.
2. The initial project is a success so everyone relaxes
Everyone slaps each other on the back, and goes back to doing things the way they always used too. Change is challenging. Increasingly psychologists recognise that people only change away from their current behaviours when the pain associated with not changing becomes too much. So make sure that doing things the old way is not acceptable, and that there is pain associated with old behaviours. Also, do try to ensure that the CRM system offers an attractive alternative to your users.
3. A new board appointment arrives
Freshly promoted after implementing CRM software in their last job, and keen to do it all again with their “tame” supplier. CRM is not a piece of software. So expecting a change in software to change your CRM project into a rip roaring success is naive. Make sure that they are not confusing product features with Strategy Tactics or Execution.
4. Your organisation assumes technology trends don’t apply to you
Your business does not need social CRM, or Inbound Marketing, or any of this new fangled Web2.0 stuff. It’s just like that internet thing a few years ago – passing phase, soon be back to normal. If your organisations view of “new” technology is instinctively cautious, then beware. Whilst software vendors do want to sell you more, they will only succeed if they deliver real value. To that end, they research the market and emerging trends in great depth. The old days are never coming back – so now is a great time to see just how you can make new technology work for you.
That said however...
5. An exciting new BI / SharePoint / technology project kicks off
Designed to finally bring together all of your customer interactions in one place. Technology is great, but it is only a tool to be used in meeting business needs. SharePoint, BI tools and all the other technology has a place in ensuring CRM success – but they should not remove the focus from your core CRM platform. If this is a management decision to invest in more software, instead of learning to make the CRM system perform – be very worried.
6. The killer Excel workbook takes root
Compiled by an Excel guru, it becomes the tool of choice for the board, but requires everyone to submit data in an agreed format. A combination of warning signs two and five. Managers who cannot be bothered to change, and the lure of a technology solution combine to kill your CRM solution. Far better to work within the CRM software and utilise its reporting tools and dashboards.
7. Excellence becomes boring!
Glib I know, but why else would you desert a successful system. Of course the flip side is, if the CRM system is not perceived as successful then failure is not far away. Time to revitalise the project by getting back to basics. Data quality anyone?
Don't be alarmed if you recognise some of these warning signs in your own business. As long as you understand how they can undermine CRM success you can prepare your response, and hopefully you'll never need to ask "why is my CRM system failing?" again!