Insights | Digital Enablement

CRM Shouldn’t Stand for ‘Crisis Response Management’

5 surefire ways to ensure a successful CRM implementation

CRM white board image
Author: Neel Pelser

The other day I turned to Apple’s Siri with a question about CRM implementations:


‘How may I help you?’

‘Why do so many CRM implementations fail?’

‘What is this ‘CRM,’ Neel? Crisis Management?’

‘No… well… wait… kind of…’

Did she not know the answer? Or did she simply have Zen-like insight into the issue? For one reason or another (Siri, perhaps), companies skimp on due diligence regarding the real-world pitfalls of customer relationship management (CRM) implementations before setting off on a CRM journey – whether it’s reimplementing a failed or aging system or going with a shiny new CRM.

Do a search of ‘Why do CRM implementations fail’ and you’ll get plenty of answers. The main reason is that there’s much more to CRM systems than installing CRM technology. Studies show that it requires a well-designed strategy and careful orchestration of people, process, and technology. You must also consider CRM elements for the entire customer lifecycle, especially aligning account and contact management to marketing, sales, and customer service cycles.

5 Surefire Ways to Ensure a Successful CRM Implementation

The following are five real-world pitfalls that, if managed or avoided, could turn your CRM into a huge success and set the path for effective and efficient customer processes:

  1. Get 100% Total Buy-In. Win over the C-Suite and things tend to fall in place. Project stakeholders and end users are much more likely to convert to a new way of doing business if your executives support and promote the solution. Plus, business owners, not IT, determine what people, processes, functionalities, data, and reporting are needed to run their business, and IT supports those decisions with the right technology. Remind them of this. With everyone – and we mean everyone – on board, you’ll avoid dealing with out-of-system patch solutions.
  2. Give Stakeholders Time, Time, and More Time. Employees tend to prioritize their main job responsibilities. Make CRM a high priority. Everyone contributing to the CRM cycle needs to allocate enough time to comprehensively clarify their requirements for the future solution. Get them to do that and you’re much less like to hear a chorus of ‘This doesn’t work for me’.
  3. Keep Your Eye on the Enterprise. See the CRM forest for the siloed trees. Don’t get bogged down in the weeds with siloed systems. Step back, consider holistic issues, and set out to design the ideal future end state and long term roadmap. With an enterprise architecture, you can see where new functionality will enable evolving business requirements; and the roadmap will clearly show when those requirements will be met.
  4. Prioritize Master Data Management (MDM) and Data Quality (DQ). Consider creating a MDM plan early in the planning. While you’re in flight ‘touching’ all of the data anyway, it is often the best time and place to address MDM since it will be a lot more difficult, costly, and time-consuming to retrofit. Concurrently, invest in converting and cleaning legacy unclean data. Invest in the thorough pre-screening, clean-up, consolidation, and translation of legacy data prior to conversion of relevant and important go-forward data to the new solution. This will save a lot of frustration and costs in the future.
  5. Define a System-of-Record Per Data Domain. CRM processes involve sending data across various platforms such as marketing automation (MA) systems, configuration/pricing/quoting (CPQ) systems, accounting/billing/distribution (ERP) systems, and provisioning and support systems. Your CRM should be the system-of-record for all customer data. Related systems should act as the event and transaction ‘children’ of the customer ‘parent’ in your CRM.

Read Part Two of this series on CRM optimization.

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