Too Many Systems is No System

By Jill Dyché Print this article Print

To prepare for a new wave of Customer Relationship Management software, it’s important for IT managers to learn from the multiple mistakes and pitfalls of CRM’s early years.

The litmus test is the answer to this question: What’s your system of record for customer data? If the answer is, “We have more than one system of record for customer data,” then there is actually no system of record for customer data. There’s a good chance that data quality is being compromised and that there are, in fact, multiple versions of the truth.

As our knowledge of how to deploy CRM the right way has evolved, so has the sophistication level of customers, who are demanding increasing control of their relationships and have higher expectations. To opt in to receive marketing campaigns means a clear quid pro quo from company to consumer. 

Businesses need to expand their customer conversations beyond knowing a customer’s purchase history and offering a product based on next-sequential purchase analysis. Engaging a customer in a relevant dialog at the right time means optimizing the mix of business processes, operational functionality, and information access to give traction to the brand and encourage customers to re-engage with you.

What You Should Do Now

Is your company reviving its CRM program? Or have you been given responsibility for a highly visible “know thy customer” effort? Either way, there are key steps you should consider to launch your customer initiative the right way.

First, whenever possible, align your CRM effort to corporate strategy. Most enterprise CRM efforts will ultimately transcend individual lines of business and drive additional competitive advantage and efficiencies. By linking a new CRM program to a key strategy that’s acknowledged by upper management, you will cement top-level support. 

Few executives will scorn a customer-focused project that’s been strategically aligned. And engaging executives is a surefire way to secure adequate funding for your effort.

Know your road map. Is your company entrenched in TV and outdoor advertising at the expense of targeted online conversations with customers and prospects? Should you start CRM with your business customers—the 20 percent who produce 80 percent of your revenues—and forego consumers for a year or two? Where you begin will determine where you end up. The key is to do so in circumscribed increments.

Be willing to change measurements. Compensate your employees for adopting fresh, customer-centric behaviors. The most reliable way to ensure everyone is on board is to change measurements and accompanying compensation structures. 

My firm helped an automobile company build a CRM strategy in its call center. For its standard brand, the automaker compensated call-center reps based on the number of calls they could take per hour and per day. But for its luxury brand, the automaker paid reps based on the results of post facto customer satisfaction surveys. All customers received good service, but the most profitable customer tier got the best service, and those serving them had an incentive to optimize it.

Lastly, don’t forget to manage expectations. The hardest part for Grange was defining the road map, Buzek confirms. “We invested in a clear and incremental delivery plan that is focused on continuous improvement, and then we socialized the plan with stakeholders,” he recalls. “That way, everyone understands the value of improving the customer experience. Our CEM program will help us realize the incremental impact of a superior insurance experience so we can continue to deliver those “wow” moments. That’s good for us, our agents and our policyholders.”

Jill Dyché, partner and co-founder of Baseline Consulting, performs advisory services in customer and data strategy delivery. She has written The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to CRM and two other books on the business value of information.

This article was originally published on 2010-08-12
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