Keeping the Customer in Customer Relationship Management
With so many Customer Relationship Management vendors making similar promises -- and with some even offering solutions that are on the bleeding edge -- companies may have a difficult time discerning which provider to ink a deal with.
How do you choose the best CRM solution for your company? And, taking it a step further, how do you implement that solution in the most effective, efficient way possible? Those are the types of questions Green Beacon Solutions helps its clients answer. Green Beacon recently offered some CRM selection and implementation best practices on the Microsoft Dynamics blog that are worth review.
Among the best practices are: get upper-management sponsorship, stakeholder participation, pick your CRM team wisely, determine success metrics, define business objectives, customer identification, customer understanding, customer-strategy integration, data and map requirements and standardized data, create customer engagement programs, collect data, monitor and adjust the customer experience, evaluation and purchase, and communicate.
Articulate the Customer Experience
Let's dive into the lesser-explored best practices, such as customer differentiation, customer understanding, and customer experience goal definition. Green Beacon Solutions suggests further identifying your customers by defining segments -- your high-value and high-potential customers: "Know who you want to serve. Understand what that customer wants? Prioritize. What is the customer worth and what is their potential worth to the company?"
On the customer understanding front, Green Beacon says it's a matter of understanding what they want and how they want it from you. Then there's the all-important customer experience goal definition.
"You and your company are the users, but the solution is about your customer. Articulate the customer experience," Green Beacon suggests. "How should their experience feel? Identify important business interactions, e.g. high volume or high cost. Identify interactions that are important to the customer -- high involvement and high perceived importance."
Consider Customer Cycles
What about customer strategy integration? Green Beacon argues that interactive marketing is a fragmented discipline in which marketers work with many different vendors to develop and execute marketing programs. It's up to each individual company, then, to recognize that disparate databases of customer information prevent companies from gaining a holistic view of the customer throughout the organization.
"Break down those silos. Line-of-business managers are often employing tactics that address products and not customers," Green Beacon says. "That is because they are still looking at accounts on file, rather than at customer relationships e.g. banks that send two offers within a short time span -- one that recommends consolidating their debt into a home equity loan and the other that offers a balance transfer for their credit card."
Next, create customer-engagement programs by cycles, such as acquisition, growth and retention. Customer engagement is a process, not an event, Green Beacon says, and too often retention is treated as a project, rather than a guiding principle.
Choosing a Vendor
After you collect data, you can monitor and adjust the customer experience. Green Beacon puts it this way: Keep your eye on the prize.
"Measure the results against the metrics that you determined earlier and address the inevitable issues," the firm suggests. "Walk a mile in your customers' shoes. Don't rely on complaints from customers about how horrific it is to do business with you. Put yourself in their shoes by going through the typical customer experience."
In terms of evaluating and purchasing a CRM solution that meets the needs of your company, Green Beacon offers a practical suggestion: Don't buy what you don't need.
"The fewer bells and whistles, the less time and money you'll need to devote to train internal and external users on the solution," the firm explains. "People don't like change as it is; keeping things simple only makes the switchover that much easier. And train early and train often."