CRM implementation pointers

There are several issues that organizations need to consider before implementing CRM strategies. Budgets, business strategies, change management, etc are some of the factors that impact the deployment of CRM. According to experts a major factor in the success of CRM deployments is to be able to work with a customer-centric view. This implies that along with cost reduction and sales improvements, the companies must also ensure that customers benefit in their interaction with the company.

As with most enterprise applications, it is important that the CRM system be deployed to fulfill a business case and not that a business case be built around the CRM system. Very often, technologically sound CRM systems fail to take off because insufficient attention is paid to the business processes and the effect of the changes in processes on the people involved.

The top management needs to affirm full faith in a CRM system before it expects a whole-hearted buy-in from the lower management. Departments within the enterprise need to be on the same wavelength as far as CRM is concerned. This is important so that customers across the various customer touch points are exposed to the same service experience that they can associate with the brand.

According to experts, the long term maintenance and services costs of a CRM implementation can be three times as high as the license fees. By assessing the monthly, quarterly, and yearly expenses, companies can get a better idea of the financial risks involved and can explore other alternatives such as hosted or web-based CRM.

A step-by-step approach to CRM implementation offers the advantage of manageable projects, quick implementation, and less costs. It also improves end-user understanding of the deployed applications. While a gradual implementation has its merits, its important that companies chart their migration paths in such a manner that they are able to add functionalities as their requirements change. Having to change vendors mid-way through an implementation can be an expensive proposition.

CRM can lead to improved customer interactions to the extent of the accuracy of the data fed to the system. Before implementing a CRM solution, companies should cleanse the available behavioral data, eliminate redundancies, and ensure that all customer touchpoints have access to accurate data stored at a centralized database. DataFlux, FirstLogic, and Trillium are some of the vendors who provide data-cleansing software.

Changes in the management, M&As, and other such events can have a disruptive effect on a CRM implementation. This is something that companies need to factor in at the very outset. The transition of end-users from training to live operation with a given application has to be initiated at the right time. This is possible only if sufficient exposure is provided to the users at the training stage.

Users should be put on a training schedule as soon as the software and integrator are decided. Users should feel that they are a part of the change process and several times questions put forth by the end users can lead to an enhancement in the functionalities that otherwise would have been missed.

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