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A CRM value system: Five metrics of success

About to embark on a major CRM project with a client, the president of the company turned to me with a question: “What metrics will define the success of our CRM initiative?”

As I reflected on the best definition of CRM success, five key metrics became apparent – five key values that define the critical path to success in any implementation. They are strategic alignment, user involvement and acceptance, improved process effectiveness, information sharing and visibility.

A company must implement a CRM solution that is strategic and aligned with its goals. When you don’t define your company’s goals and strategies in terms of CRM requirements, you have no basis for making decisions on applications, training protocols, success metrics or reporting. You have no measure to define success. What’s more, you can’t gain user buy-in because employees don’t have a clear understanding of what’s in it for them. Without a clearly defined set of goals and requirements that directly support strategies and related business processes, a CRM project is sure to fail.

Solutions should be implemented so that they are accepted and embraced by all system users. This is a change management initiative and is very important in achieving other objectives. User acceptance is the bottom line: If you don’t gain user acceptance, then it won’t matter that you picked the king of CRM applications or that you effectively identified business process improvements. A human change management initiative is required in order to make the technology initiative work.

Deliver a solution that improves sales, marketing, and customer support effectiveness. CRM must automate business processes and formalize best practices that will improve the overall effectiveness of the company’s sales, marketing and customer support efforts in a way that aligns with the business’ goals. It is not enough to just capture data; companies need to focus on the impact their CRM implementation has on their customer, since improvements in customer relationships drive the ROI to justify the investment made in CRM.

When a solution is put into place, you must facilitate information sharing between departments. Complex interdependencies require that multiple departments share information seamlessly. Walls that exist between departments must be broken down. An effective flow of information between departments will improve relationships and a company’s ability to execute its strategies and achieve corporate goals.

Finally, provide visibility into key performance metrics through reports and dashboards. The sole purpose of a CRM solution cannot be a report generator. It’s critical to understand that the business processes supported by CRM provide data that can be used to garner knowledge of customer and employee activity. Without understanding these key performance indicators, management cannot see if progress is being made or when deviations to performance benchmarks are occurring.

Sticking closely to this critical path can help assure a successful journey. CRM cannot be approached as a tactical exercise if it is going to generate positive effects and returns. In order to succeed, it needs to be driven by strategy and a high level of attention to the key performance metrics and human factors that drive a business.

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