Independent Contact Center Consultants: Bridging Strategy, Technology and Operations Since 2004

Technology Optimization: Customer Relationship Management

CRM comes in many forms – home-grown, premise-based, and more recently, hosted or Software as a Service. Although “CRM nirvana” is an enterprise-wide tool, the challenge of getting all of the data, processes, and organizational elements aligned to leverage the technology can be overwhelming. So the starting point for a useful solution is figuring out where and how the “80-20 rule” fits in your environment. Project scope must reflect a clear sense of the business strategy, a concrete statement of what the company will achieve, and an action plan that incorporates people and process elements alongside technology deployment. If you’re long on technology and short on strategy, people, and process, you are asking for trouble.

customer relationship managementWhether you have a home-grown CRM, premise-based CRM, or hosted CRM, or embarking on a CRM journey, keep these “best practices” in mind.

FIRST: Start with vision and strategy. Define CRM’s role and ensure that your deployment supports that role across marketing, sales, and service. Build CRM around the customer life cycle and consider the call center’s role in each step of that life cycle. This mindset will force a focus on customer interactions and experience. Consider the enterprise view, if possible. Build strategy and plans for the call center with an eye toward its interactions with the rest of the organization.

SECOND: Don’t focus just on the technology. Define processes and allocate resources to get value from technology. Process elements include initial workflow definitions and processes to review and revise workflows. Define and align the people elements – such as organizational roles and responsibilities – with the process plans.

THIRD: Keep in mind that CRM is never “done.” It needs to evolve to respond to business needs and react to business outcomes. Success in ongoing application requires IT and business collaboration.

FINALLY: Configure the technology, don’t customize. That way you leverage best practices while applying the tool to your environment, and that tool can continue to evolve with your business needs and the product’s capabilities.