Communicate. Collaborate. Compete.

Update March 2012: If you missed David’s presentation Social CRM; what it is and how to implement it at TFM&A 2012 we’ve added it to the end of this blog.

Communicate. Collaborate. Compete.

People think CRM is one thing, but CRM can be many things to many different businesses.

Gartner define CRM as:

“A business strategy whose outcomes optimise profitability, revenue and customer satisfaction… CRM technologies should enable greater customer insight, increased customer access, more effective customer interactions, and integration throughout all customer channels and back-office enterprise functions”.

Simply put, CRM is a business strategy…it’s not technology.

At the basic level it is good contact management, but if you extend the concept of CRM into your business it can be much more than managing who you contact, how you contact and when you contact. It becomes about the way you manage processes, from the way you sell your products or service a customer, to the way your run processes internally.David Beard

So we can’t think that utilising CRM in your business is just a case of installing a new piece of kit and watching it magically solve all your business problems. I see a successful deployment of CRM as focusing around three key things.

1) Communicate.

Think ‘more haste, led speed’. Now’s the time to identify and connect with key stakeholders and really think about your business issues – what are you trying to solve?  For example, are you trying to improve efficiency or better understand your customers?

Once you’ve recognised those challenges you can begin to think in terms of measurements and identifying targets. This helps you develop clear strategic objectives and understand where you want to be, essential to proving the return on investment from your CRM.

2) Collaboration.

Interact with other areas of your business; you may discover things you’ve not thought of or get new ideas. Remember good collaboration can move CRM initiatives company-wide.

Enquiring outside of your department can help you recognise where you can link up processes to provide the best value for your customers and share knowledge.

3) Compete.

Of course you must spend time understanding the capabilities of CRM software packages but you must spend more time thinking about your own business. What are your core competencies compared to your competitors? How can your CRM make that competency even better? CRM can, of course improve your marketing function or empower your sales force, but successful CRM could be a whole lot more.

Look long and hard at your products, your staff and particularly your processes. Where can you improve? Where can you add leverage? And can you use them as business drivers to make your CRM support you and go further?

David Beard, Sage CRM Expert