Building an Effective CRM Strategy

A good CRM strategy can be a powerful tool that can empower salespeople to better engage with customers-provided it operates precisely within the framework of a customer centric strategy.

A robust CRM system can become an important tool for building customer loyalty and encouraging retention. It can also keep your business competitive, but one common mistake that most organizations make is to see it as a standalone tactic, rather then aiming to develop it as a strategic function. If you have a CRM system and it’s not currently achieving what you’ve hoped then it’s down to the absence of any strategic plan, or maybe because a system is not in line and fully integrated with business goals.

Even those who do have a CRM system and strategy in place would be wise to revisit it from time to tome to ensure that it still fits their purpose in an age of new emerging channels and changing customer behaviors. In a recent research carried out by Forrester Research, a number of reasons were identified for businesses deciding to implement new and improved CRM system.

The top three include:

  •  Standardizing all decentralised processes that impede efficient customer relationships
  •  Enhancing connections with existing and new customers by using new technologies
  •  Utilizing new channels that offer way to more personal customer communications

Building an Effective CRM Strategy

A good CRM system is one that looks holistically at business systems and processes that deal with customers, including sales, marketing, ordering, technical support, customer care and customer analytics/business intelligence. In addition, it should also span all available interaction channels including retail/outlets/branch, mobile self service and web, and sales and service partners. It’s important that CRM strategy successfully optimizes all unassisted and assisted processes and ensures all channels are using optimized processes on consistent basis.

As with any strategy, its important that you properly do your research, and it should be clear right from the outset about what your key objectives are going to be, both short-term and long-term.

The foundation of any successful CRM strategy should begin with consideration for the range of capabilities your organization has. This should include every step of the process, from technology to business process and your workforce. Following just one or two of these at a time will lead to many issues down the line. If just one part falls down, it can have cascading effect through the whole chain.

Above all, keep in mind that the customer should always be at the heart of the strategy, not your service or product. This can mean a complete change in the way you think in some cases, but it’s definitely an important shift and one that your whole team needs to understand and get behind from the start.”

Let’s now summarize the preparatory steps to lay the foundation for building your CRM system:

  1. Understand all the challenges and issues that you currently face when interacting with your customer.
  2. Identify your customer journeys
  3. Identify how you’ll measure success, what will your KPIs be
  4. Identify critical business dates or milestones

With customer data being an important part of any CRM project, another crucial task to undertake before CRM system building begins in earliest is ensuring that your data management is in excellent shape. Without any data on your customers, you won’t be able to learn what and what does not engage them, what kind of effect this engagement does or doesn’t have depending on what you actually say, to whom and when.

Creating a CRM strategy

This preparation will not only give your business a good platform on which to build a robust CRM system, but it will also help in determining your actual CRM maturity, highlighting amount and type of work that needs to be done ensure that an effective CRM system is in place. Furthermore, you’ll also be clear on whether or not external experts are required to assist in the creation of good strategy.

With all this addressed, businesses should start crafting their CRM by ensuring that it duly addresses the following topics.

  •  A clear vision on what a good CRM system looks like across the organization
  •  The cultural readiness of the organization to adopt a customer-centric approach to business
  •  An effective plan for communicating all the actionable items in the CRM strategy, progress charts that indicated what has been actually implemented and where
  • A comprehensive education program for staff, including third-parties who’re involved in interactions with organization’s customers
  •  An implementation plan, including a feedback loop that allows everyone in the organization to highlight execution or implementation issues
  • Clear leadership
  • The selection of powerful software to support the unique CRM system of the organization.
  • Celebration of excellence when it’s achieved

It’s important that a comprehensive CRM system should have multiple levels, including detailed business objectives, channels strategy, data strategy and analytics, experience/communications planning, metrics/measurements and continuous improvement.

Once all objectives have been clearly set and defined, one can easily start mapping the customer journey, using all data, analytics and information at disposal. It is important to fully understand where and in what way your business touches or interacts with customers.

At each of these touch points, you will have to first identify a piece of opportunity or data to impact-you’ll also be able to identify all gaps in touch points where as a organization you’re not communicating with your customers, as these are the moments that do matter. Simple journey segmentation and conversion can highlight the differences in these journeys between a wide range and types of customers.

Once you successfully list all the moments you want to finally impact, you can then go ahead and build your CRM data strategy, encompassing: kind of data you need; kind of data you currently have; how you can use all available data to understand your customer; what segments you should apply; what propensity models are to be used; whether you should use predictive analytics to understand when an dhow to communicate.

Next comes the content and channel strategy. Here you match audience segments, channels, and content together to weave your communication experience. Before you begin the process to evaluating different software solutions, you should first try to engage the organization with the strategy so far.

The leadership team should come forward and clearly define what they actually mean by their CRM system in terms that each of their employees can understand. For this, strategy should be communicated to all employees. They should also know all policies and procedures that should be adopted by them. At this point organization can look at various software solutions.

Once the CRM solution has been chosen and implemented, the CRM system should ensure that there’s a ongoing process to monitor, measure and improve CRM.

Conclusion

For organizations interested in developing a CRM strategy and system we would say it’s as much a people and cultural change as it’s a technological one. It takes on going investment in employees, training and processes and shouldn’t be seen by CEO’s as a quick win. The payback from such a good CRM strategy can be substantial if used strategically and as an integrated part of the business function.

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Michael Taylor
Michael is the Lead Author & Editor of CRMSimplified Blog. Michael established the CRM blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to CRM.
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