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General information on CRM



How does such a CRM provider comparison typically work in practice?

If you ask the market players or managing directors and (potential) users of a CRM system, what is CRM for you? Then you almost always get the answer: It is primarily a strategic task and secondarily a technical issue.

Unfortunately, in day-to-day business we often find that the reality is quite different. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to the question of how CRM is practiced. All too often, lip service is paid, and surveys such as the one conducted by the Muuuh Group produce divergent results. With the introduction of a CRM system, there is the hope that the leads, the higher turnover and the customer orientation (CRM) will happen by themselves. Unfortunately, this is not possible. Although the focus is on the customer, the customer usually stands in the way. Companies are still organized by function and not by target and customer groups.

In the past, another way of categorizing CRM was, for example, strategic CRM, collaborative CRM and analytical CRM. Nevertheless, at the end of the discussion, a CRM system was on the shopping list without first defining the objectives, the relevant target groups and customer segments as well as measures for this.

Let’s assume that CRM works like in the textbook. In our experience, the process is divided into two levels:

Level 1 is the predominantly strategic CRM level.

This is where the direction, roadmap, training requirements and new personnel are defined. This phase, within the strategic CRM level, includes change management and strategic project management, regular communication within the company and controlling.

Level 2 is the operational CRM level.

This is explicitly about the selection of software (CRM software or MarTech software). Today, we will play through this using CRM software as an example. The system selection process for a marketing automation solution, a fully integrated ERP/CRM complete solution or special products such as BI, address quality or a configurator is usually very similar.

Level 1: The strategic component when selecting a CRM system

Strategic steps for IT roadmap and selection process

At the start of the collaboration or project setup, we clarify the type and nature of the collaboration. Who is responsible for what, what roles does who have? Are we the project manager or “just” the project facilitator? What is the composition of the project team? Will steering committee participants and meetings as well as reporting be agreed?

Which project management tool do we use? Dates for jour fixe, meetings, workshops, web conferences, steering committee are defined. Which documents do we use? Is there a special PowerPoint or Word file? How do we communicate on a regular basis? Via e-mail or a tool?

The first image describes an example of a strategic approach and way of thinking when it comes to selecting software.

Above all else: Check address quality and data quality

After the CRM system project start, our first task is to check the address and data quality. The reason is simple: if, as in many cases, it turns out that the quality is not quite as good, then it can easily take 3 to 6 months to clean up the addresses and data. This effort is always worthwhile. But as we all know, time is short. The CRM system should be introduced as quickly as possible. We therefore start the cleansing process as early as possible in order to be ready in time for the tool launch or earlier.

Reason, very often the following happens: Either the CRM system implementation is delayed because the addresses and data are not yet clean enough. Or the bad addresses are imported, then the employees are dissatisfied, even pissed off, because the new tool cannot be used (due to the bad addresses and data).

Conclusion: This is not good for your own business. A classic false start and a high risk of a bad investment in CRM software!

Second strategic task: Clarify the vision and create a big picture

As a second step, we create the big picture with the management and the selected project members. Where should the company’s journey in terms of customer relationship management be heading? What is the company vision? What business models and service models have already been devised or are possible? What course must be set in the long term from a technical or CRM software perspective? Do the CRM system or CRM solution fit into the current or future landscape? How must operational CRM implement the strategy? Is the business changing due to general conditions such as competition, technology and foreseeable changes in customer behavior?

Excursus: Before future users work on the requirements definition, we recommend training and sensitizing the project members

An important building block is the training and sensitization of future users. We have found that the definition of requirements for a CRM system or CRM solutions is much more precisely formulated if the users are trained in advance.

Training is provided on the following topics: What can a CRM system do? Thinking outside the box: What interesting features do other companies use? How do they use their CRM program? What is possible and what is pragmatic? We are not only interested in the technology, but very often also in sales and marketing, campaigns or processes. What are the benefits of mobile sales, service or marketing? Thinking outside the box improves the later course of the project enormously, as well as the acceptance of the selected system.

It’s about competence and empowerment and “everyone understands the same thing and talks about the same thing”. At this point, strategic customer relationship management has reached an important part of the employees and users. And we don’t want to select a CRM system in your company for yesterday’s requirements, but one for today and tomorrow.

Target/actual analysis through workshops and live process inspections

Based on this CRM training and the input from the big picture, we now analyze the current situation or the target situation, the target vision (processes, skills, communication, campaigns and KPIs) for a CRM system. A comparison is then made between the management’s big picture and the requirements of the users. If there are any discrepancies in the objectives and understanding, these are worked out, balanced or refined. We do not differentiate here between large and small companies. The risk of a bad CRM software investment is usually even more dramatic in small companies.

From this CRM training and the input from the big picture, the actual situation or the target situation, the target vision (processes, skills, communication, campaigns and KPIs) for a CRM system are now analyzed. A comparison is then made between the management’s big picture and the requirements of the users. If there are any discrepancies in the objectives and understanding, these are worked out, balanced or refined. We do not differentiate here between large and small companies. The risk of a bad CRM software investment is usually even more dramatic in small companies.

What is the current maturity level of customer orientation (CRM) in the company?

Before starting to select CRM software, it is important to determine the current status of customer relationship management. What level of maturity is the company at? To what extent is customer orientation established in the culture and processes? Where does customer relationship management stand? Is the focus only on the introduction of software? What do users currently think about this topic? What problems do they currently have with the tools? An online survey can be used to clarify the sensitivities, wishes and attitudes towards the CRM system in advance and identify pain points.

Workshops on IT framework conditions, IT system analysis and current processes

In the workshops, a process map is first drawn up. Which processes are important or less important? Which ones should we walk through live so that it is clear where the stumbling blocks, challenges or special features are? How do marketing and sales work together? How can mobile solutions provide support? Or is there still a silo mentality? Does marketing need a marketing automation solution or does sales also need one? How deeply should the CRM system be wired into the company? What does the service look like in technology or in the event of a complaint? What is important for adding value for the customer?

In subsequent IT workshops, we clarify the framework conditions and the current situation. What else is currently planned? Which projects are currently running? How are potential new projects integrated into this context?

All of this is documented in detail, analyzed and prepared for the management and the project team and discussed with everyone. There must be no taboos between management and the project team.

We discuss initial findings, conflicting goals, priority and capacity problems or quick wins. What are possible sticking points? Where do we need to drill deeper to gain certainty or clarity?

Now the 2nd phase of the strategic level begins.

A strategic IT roadmap is created from the findings, if one does not already exist. What should the target system look like? This is followed by tasks that are independent of technology. E.g. How will the processes be optimized? Who will do this, by when and with what goal?

As soon as the IT roadmap or the planned IT infrastructure has been defined and communicated, a special selection project can also begin.

Exciting question: Choose new software or retrain software?

We often find that CRM software is not accepted. However, in the analysis we also find that the CRM software is not such a bad fit. So we clarify whether training or ongoing training is enough. After all, selecting new software is often more expensive than training the existing one. And another large project puts more strain on the organization than training. This needs to be weighed up. If a project can be avoided, that would be a great first quick win.

Parallel to the other activities, the company sets up a project controlling system and defines an internal quality management system. If ISO certification is important, this topic becomes mandatory anyway. How is documentation carried out? What evidence must be provided and by whom? Where are these documents filed?

Often forgotten: New software means new processes and new requirements for employees

If, for example, a BI solution is to be introduced, you need employees who can operate the tool. If no one can do it yet, a search should be launched. Or who is suitable to develop into this position?

Processes also change when a CRM system is introduced. What new requirements does this place on users?

Another unpopular topic: organizational development and change management

When working on processes, the question also arises as to what new skills employees need. How do we reposition ourselves? Because if you think CRM consistently, you can no longer keep your functional organization. This company should focus its organization on target and customer groups. Sometimes a big step. But it’s worth it. We help with this.

And without mentioning it, it is clear to every reader that the topic of support also plays a major role in change management.

But these 14 points are, roughly speaking, the strategic level. The superstructure or framework, so to speak. All of this is based on the foundations of the corporate vision or corporate strategy.


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