For some reason CRM has become a term associated with technology, but CRM has very little to do with technology. CRM is a business strategy, plain and simple. It's a management decision and a commitment to improving how you market, sell, and provide service to your customers. If implemented properly, CRM can streamline the front office business processes that impact sales execution and customer service resulting in increased sales, improved profitability, and happier customers. Realizing the benefits of CRM however does not happen by itself and anyone foolish enough to believe that simply implementing a CRM solution will deliver improved sales performance and customer loyalty is well, just foolish.
Businesses today are spending an incredible amount of time and money to find the right CRM solution or technology for automating their internal business processes, yet the failure rate for implementations and return on investment for CRM is greater than 70 percent. Why is this? I believe the reason is two-fold. First, CRM does not run your business, people do. People are the key ingredient for the success of your business not CRM. I look at CRM as a tool like a hammer. By itself its does nothing and is not going to fix your business problems, but in the hands of an experienced and committed staff great things can happen. Secondly, I think in many cases people are trying to automate too much.
More businesses are implementing automated sales and marketing programs in record numbers. These programs that capture every bit of information about a customer or prospect often referred to as "Big Data" are being used to bombard customers and prospects with ads, offers, emails, and more. In many cases companies have dehumanized the sales process and customers are beginning to find these automated messages disingenuous. What happened to the human element of simply calling the prospect to learn about their business and their requirements? I am not suggesting that there is no value in automating marketing and sales, there certainly is, but we may have gone too far. You can't automate how people think or interact with prospects and customers. This is one of the most critical components of your business and with all our faults, prospects and customers still want to interact with other human beings. They want a phone number to call if they need assistance and they want to know that you care.
Companies are working hard to reduce the cost of sales and provide additional vehicles for self service, such as customer portals, an Internet-based knowledgebase and frequently asked questions. This is all great stuff and I get it, but I think we have to be careful not to alienate customers by over automating processes that still require a human element. When people interact with other people we get feedback, ideas, suggestions for improving our product or service and referrals from people who feel they have received quality care. This just occurs naturally, but is lost with automation of customer-facing processes like sales and customer service.