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Avoiding textbook CRM system failure

If you are implementing or replacing your CRM system take it from us – planning is essential. If you make mistakes in your process they are expensive to fix. Here are tips of Katie, our in-house chartered marketer, who has helped companies implement their CRM systems.

* Make sure you have clear objectives for the system at the outset of any implementation of system development.

* Don’t view the system as separate to the way your organisation manages customer relationships.

* Buy-in has to come from the top: if the senior managers aren’t bothered about the system, no one else will
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* Continue to communicate the system benefits to users by having champions throughout the organisation. Communicating user benefits (as opposed to benefits to the business) may help. And make internal communications as fun as possible – try having weekly competitions and try to encourage user participation on future developments.

* Make use of the system mandatory. People don’t like change within the workplace and given a chance, they won’t bother to learn the new system. The data will not be accurate, and the use of the system will be minimised if it is not used by all relevant staff consistently. Staff will soon come to rely on it as it becomes a part of their everyday life – think back to when we didn’t use email or mobile phones!

* Continue the management of the system beyond implementation. The system needs to be managed and developed as your organisation develops. The data within the system needs to be managed and used on a continuous basis. It’s all very well having a CRM system, now you need to use it. Otherwise it will be a very expensive waste of time.

* Train all users and then train again. Hold regular but short training sessions as refreshers and whenever there is a new development. Introduce training videos, online tests and make training fun where possible. User participation when training is essential if you don’t want people to forget what they’ve learnt as soon as they walk out the door.

Katie Sanders: Katie took a sales background into marketing, and holds chartered marketer status with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. A devotee of PR she heads up our publicity team.