CRM – the same for all of us…uniquely

CRM – the same for all of us...uniquely

When I reflect on the Dynamics CRM implementations that we completed last year, one thing really strikes me. When I look at our work in progress and current project pipeline the same thing strikes me.

I have always felt that for the vast majority of people, irrespective of our background, location and culture the most basic and best of human values pervade. Most companies’ leadership, employees and stakeholders, I believe, also share similar basic core values, irrespective of their sector. Very few businesses set out to create barriers to trade, conspire to alienate their clients or wilfully neglect their staff.

So the one thing that has really struck me is the basic and common desire to nurture, maintain and build relationships with those closest to a business.

In this context, that is their customers, prospects, employees and partners. This sows the seeds of success and profit. So whilst there is strong commonality in values for the vast majority of businesses, the execution of these is often the real challenge. It is in the execution that each case in both unique and full of nuance. In our world, here at Concise CRM, it is those unique challenges, opportunities and cultural nuances that harbours the success of a CRM implementation.

Over the years we have experienced so many implementations where we are replacing disparate systems. These generally have evolved organically over many years. Very often business workflow and process has been bent accordingly to fit. All those systems, due for retirement and often with a very unceremonial goodbye, had started out with the best intention of supporting the core values that we are talking about.

Where legacy systems failed in most cases is a failure to adapt and a lack of ownership.

A good CRM system like Dynamics CRM provides a mechanism to adapt through extensive workflow and customisation capability. It also provides a platform on which to place internal ownership in a collaborative environment. A CRM system can be owned by the business and its component parts, not the developer or IT team.  CRM can support these core values and this is where the commonality lies. We all need the same core components.

  • Contact management
  • Activity management
  • Opportunity management
  • Case and complaint handling
  • Marketing automation and communication tools
  • Business process automation
  • A single source of data
  • Powerful management reporting

The list goes on and the product specification sheet ticks all those boxes.  We need these components in the same way we need a word processing package and a spreadsheet. They are business prerequisites.

Where we are so different, as organisations, is the different application of these functions. These are unique to us, our culture, our processes, our sector and integration requirements.

CRM provides the capability with these core components to finesse and streamline processes as well as improve operational effectiveness.  

The world is becoming more impatient by the day. As I started to type this short article I quickly became frustrated by a damaged key on the keyboard. In less than two minutes I had ordered a replacement online and it will be delivered before 10am tomorrow morning. This is incredible service and yet I have an absolute expectation of this as the norm. That is the environment in which we now all trade. This type of response is not typical of all sectors (it certainly is for consumer electronics et al), or is it?

We have dealt with global companies that require CRM to manage subscription data and for this to be available instantly to their subscribers. We have dealt with Fund Managers that need to provide investor reports to third party advisors almost as soon as the business is written.  Our retail experiences are forming our commercial expectations. Life is fast. Business needs to move faster and with greater effect.

As a simple example: for years many companies in the context of CRM have looked at sales pipeline management in isolation to sales order processing. After a joyful punch of the air or similar goal celebration a new order has been forgotten about and thrown over the wall to accounts. Move on. Not anymore. That order means a client and that client needs to be maintained and nurtured. The cycle begins (or continues) and the system needs to support that.

Companies are now forced to act on rather than talk about a holistic or 360° view of the customer.

The standard Dynamics CRM ‘opportunity management’ function provides a great example of how a single function can cater for different operational requirements. In the case of our client INMALO – the need to generate multiple quotes against a single sales opportunity was a key requirement. It was also operationally crucial that a completed sale could be matched with invoices in their Sage accounting system.

In another case study, our client Great Point Media, needed to track inbound investment in Dynamics CRM for their TV and media productions. This not only included supporting the sales process and tracking investment amounts but defining business processes to help with compliance related issues. The processes needed to help manage advisor relationships as well as the end investor. However the point in hand is that we all, invariably, need the name the basic functions from CRM to support common values and aims.

The key to success is the translation of your specific requirements to best utilise the functionality and customisation capability available to the best advantage for your business.

Think about how you need to and should operate. Think where efficiency could be improved. Think where departmental co-operation could be enhanced. Think about your customer experience. Think about reporting. Think outside of a product.

It is the adaption of core CRM capability and the translation of desire in to effect that is intrinsic to what we do here at Concise CRM. It is also so rewarding to realise how unique we all are.  Read more about our work with INMALO and Great Point Media.


Steve Blunn - Chief Executive, Concise CRM Limited

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