Customer relationship management is a vital strategy for achieving higher profitability, improved productivity, lower costs, stronger customer retention, and greater insight into customer behavior.
But while CRM success rates have risen dramatically in recent years, many companies still struggle to achieve the return on investment they anticipated. Recent research shows that between 25% and 60% of CRM projects fail to meet expectations.
There is no question that, when successfully implemented CRM management software pays off: CRM pays back $8.71 for every dollar spent.
Unfortunately, however, many businesses are unable to glean all of the benefits a CRM program can bring, usually because they fall victim to one of a handful of common mistakes.
Why CRM Initiatives Fail
Many CRM initiatives fail, never yielding full advantages for their users. There are many reasons for why this happens but here are three of the most common:
1/ Users don’t understand how to properly integrate their CRM program into an existing business plan
Gartner describes the importance of strategizing when implementing CRM software: “A unified CRM strategy is absolutely critical to CRM success, but developing and implementing such a strategy is a complex, difficult and intensely political process.” Baseline finds that “a substantial reorganization must be performed on virtually every operation touching customers” if CRM integration is to be successful. Both think that, to be successful, businesses cannot lose sight of the fact that CRM software must be focused around business objectives. A business cannot forget that, at the end of the day, CRM technology needs be used as support to help reach those objectives.
2/ Users don’t understand their CRM technology
Poor user adoption is a major reason why many CRM initiatives fail. John Roberts, former SugarCRM CEO, finds that user-perception of value often determines a successful adoption: “In a lot of cases, companies deploy CRM, and there's a lot of euphoria over it for the first couple of months. Then, people stop using it… The end user doesn't see CRM as making them more efficient and effective.” To work around this problem, all employees should be engaged throughout the system planning and implementation phases so they understand what's in it for them. And if employees still don’t adopt a system as planned, it’s a good idea to ask why not so changes can be made to make the system more user-friendly, helpful, and valuable.
3/ Users don’t know what they want to measure
Successful CRM implementation needs to be aimed at achieving specific goals and objectives. Successful implementation will never happen if the CRM project is not aimed at concrete goals with a clear plan to measure both progress and results. According to CRM Solution, “A successful project is one that attains its objectives, but it is amazing how many business entities undertake a CRM solution with vague, unidentified, [and] immeasurable goals.” Without clear metrics to drive business goals, a CRM initiative will fail and its’ ROI will remain out of reach, an ROI estimated to be $5.60 for every $1.00 spent.
How Customer Relationship Management Should Work
CRM implementation should help a business in numerous ways, some of which include:
- Gathering real-time market research on customers.
- Coordinating information quickly between sales staff and customer support reps, increasing all-around effectiveness.
- Accurately gauging the effect of marketing activities, and redirecting spending accordingly.
- Increasing sales by systematically identifying and managing leads.
- Improving customer retention.
In a nutshell, your CRM software should not only improve how you communicate with your potential and existing customers, improvements which should help you generate more sales and increase loyalty, but also increase your productivity thanks to customer data which provides you with more control of your day-to-day operations.
Maximizing the Potential of Your CRM
By itself, CRM software won’t add a single dollar to your bottom line. Unless the software is properly implemented, don’t expect it to yield any results. But if your implementation process is clear, your desired outcomes and measurements are well though-out, and your employees are ready for and in support of CRM adoption, the greater your success will be. While CRM software is not capable of producing this success on its own, with fore though and smart planning, it can become a highly capable and indispensable tool for your business.