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A Roadmap for Managers

How to Build a CRM Infrastructure

Are start-up firms creating new value propositions for your customers? For some companies, CRM represents a radically new approach that will require them to do many things in different ways and for very different reasons. Managers looking to get started with their CRM implementation should follow these steps.

Involve top management. You need strong executive sponsorship of CRM if it is to be successful. For the customer-centric perspective to take root in the organization, the entire management team must participate in creating the CRM strategy.

Define a vision of integrated CRM. Understand what services and products you want to offer your customers and how you want to track customer interactions (see Figure 6.5). It's critical to examine the entire relationship with the customer and not limit yourself to a traditional stovepipe view. The CRM vision must be clearly communicated across the organization, and it must be designed to work across functional boundaries.

Figure 6.5. CRM Scorecard

Establish the CRM strategy and specify its objectives. Adopt a strategy consistent with the overall company strategy. Involve your company's marketing, sales, and service organizations, and understand how each deals with customers. Ask about current and future product and sales offerings.

Understand the customer. How does he or she use the existing products and services you offer? What is good or bad about the current process from the customer's perspective? Understand the customer life cycle value. Focus on the customers you want to keep for a lifetime.

Review cultural changes that will need to occur. Look into such issues as employee compensation and incentive structures to see whether they are sup porting the new customer-centric view. Companies serious about CRM tie employee incentives to customer indicators, such as retention and satisfaction.

Develop a business case. Analyze where you currently stand and where you need to go. Do not use subpar technology as an excuse for inaction. There will always be technical weaknesses.

Evaluate current readiness. Determine your company's position relative to the competition. Assess the ability of existing sales and service infrastructures to gain and retain existing customers.

Evaluate appropriate applications with an uncompromising focus on ease of doing business. Ensure that the applications meet today's needs and the strategic direction of the firm. Look at the applications from an integrated viewpoint. Also, take the customer's view, not the product or account view. After selecting an application, ensure that the process redesign will benefit and retain the customer.

Identify and target quick wins. Set aggressive and realistic milestones. Accomplish attainable objectives early in the process to build support and ensure completion. This allows you to implement incrementally and successfully. Celebrate your successes along the way.

Put the ownership of the end-to-end project in the hands of a single manager. Partner your team members with experienced business leaders and developers who understand how to deliver and deploy integrated applications.

Implement in stages. Because of the cost and complexity of CRM, a staged approach will offer a greater chance of success and allow for continuous evaluation of strategy. Also, challenge the solution. The usefulness and benefits of a CRM strategy continually change in the real world. Be ready for it. Be proactive about change.

Be sure to create a closed-loop CRM environment. The goal of the CRM strategy is zero leakage of information. As customers contact the company, regardless of the channel, purpose, or outcome of the interaction, make sure that it is captured.

Create concrete measurement goals. When implementing any new strategy, it is critical to measure progress and continuously assess performance. Measurement is often overlooked in the rush to make things work. Often, the most difficult part of this process is deciding what the critical success factors are and knowing when you are successful.



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