CRM technology can be a powerful tool enabling your business to be both more efficient and more effective in engaging with customers. But first, it’s crucially important to set clear objectives for what you want this technology to deliver and have a plan for how you will use it.
This plan is what we mean by a CRM Strategy - and this is far more important than the choice of technology.
With such a strategy in place you can then focus your CRM technology where it will make the most positive impact on your commercial and brand goals. Without it, you risk investing in an expensive white elephant.
But, what exactly is CRM?
CRM is a much-debated term but it boils down to a very simple idea:
Every organisation is, at various times, concerned with the need to acquire, grow and keep their customers.
CRM uses data, technology and insight to enable you to meet these objectives by being more in tune with what your customers really care about – based on who they are, what they are doing and, most importantly, why they behave as they do.
An organisation that uses this approach to deliver what customers value will have this value returned in terms of greater revenue, loyalty, advocacy.
A CRM strategy doesn’t need to be complex, expensive (or take months to create). It does need to have clear (measureable) objectives – and to have the underlying plan to deliver them. CRM itself is not just about technology but also about using data, insight and, above all, people to deliver a valued experience to the customer over time. Technology certainly enables this but cannot be allowed to drive it.
Who needs a CRM Strategy?
Every organisation has a different starting point when it comes to CRM but, common to all is the need to have a clear idea of what you want it to do, and how.
It is particularly important that any organisation going through the process of commissioning CRM technology considers whether they have a robust plan in place for how they will get the most out of it after it has been deployed.
What will a CRM Strategy give you?
A CRM Strategy will provide your business with a single reference-point for how, where and when to use CRM systems, capabilities and processes in the most effective way.
You will have success measures clearly defined and a practical plan of action documented for what to do with the technology once implemented.
How do you create one?
First, ensure you fully understand your business objectives by talking to all relevant stakeholders.
Then, get to understand the objectives of your customers – and how these may vary by segment and alter over time and according to circumstance.
Consider the ‘art of the possible’ – ideas for capabilities and tactics from your CRM strategy that may not otherwise have been considered.
Identify any critical gaps in data, insight or capabilities – and consider how to fill them.
Create a series of defined ‘customer strategies’ at a sufficiently granular level to take account of the customer’s profile, value, lifecycle stage, desired outcomes etc.
Having done the above, document your high-level business requirements AND the corresponding customer requirements that your CRM Strategy needs to support
The discipline of creating a CRM Strategy is invaluable. It forces you to consider what you want a CRM system for. As such it acts as a reference point that can be used to ensure vendors know what their software needs to support (and what it doesn’t) – and that your organisation can use as the basis for further CRM investment decisions.