I’ve been meaning to write this article for some time, and since I have a little time, I thought this might be a good opportunity.
Many people I’ve encountered over the years as a CRM consultant tend to view CRM as a piece of software, much like Outlook or Word. You install it and use it. It serves a purpose. It is viewed as nothing more than an electronic record system…..I’ve even heard CRM being defined as “Customer Record Management”. That very misunderstanding gets to the point of the matter, that the main purpose of a CRM system is not the record or the transactions…its the relationships. For some organisations this means a change in thinking or transformation. For CRM to have true impact in a business or organisation, you have to get away from the thought that you’ve bought a piece of software, and think of it as a means of transforming your business and in particular your way of thinking, your processes.
What do we mean by this?
Lets look at some examples where software is viewed as transaction based –Firstly that of Microsoft Excel. Many businesses rely on Excel to store information about their business. It might be as simple as a spread sheet of figures to as complex as a pricing matrix. They may also use Word to facilitate creation of documents, and other correspondences. At the same time Outlook might be their application for managing interactions with their customer – Emails, appointments and tasks. Essentially all these applications serve as repositories for transactions. In their own way they serve a useful purpose, but in no way manage the relationship with the customer.
Could you look at these applications a immediately see all your business touch points? Could you immediately tell the state of your relationship with that customer or potential customer? Could you, based on previous interactions, tailor your marketing to a particular need easily?
Implementing a CRM solution allows the business or organisation to capture and manage data and information, but adds a layer on top – that of relationship management. The ability to manage how they interact with their customers, not only to provide them a better understanding of them, but offer a better service.
For some businesses this is a new concept. That might seem like an unusual thing to say, however experience has taught me that for many businesses, there is a feeling that as long as you are providing a core set of services or products, anything else isn’t needed. Even worse than that, I have encountered departments, that couldn’t even tell you their business process, let alone whether they are providing a good service to their customers. The figures in Excel, Word and Outlook may seem to show they deliver some sort of service – the reality is they don’t know what that level of services actually is, as they don’t have a firm grip on their business process. Shocking as that may seem, this is more common than you might think!
To summarize, CRM has to be viewed as more than just a transaction recording system. To do so would miss the point. CRM, or the implementation of a CRM system should be used or viewed as a vehicle to drive change, to Transform your way of thinking and your way of working. It should be viewed as a window in to your interactions with customers and potential customers. In this way a good CRM implementation becomes more about Transformation than Transaction.