Change is an essential part of the growth process. Even for those companies that have deeply rooted ties to their consumer base, evolving alongside emerging technologies remain a vital component to their long-term success. And, with improved capabilities for gathering insight, brands now have more opportunities to engage with their customers. Such tools allow brands to deliver the experiences that their target customers desire, creating competitive differentiation and enabling successful CRM. However, as Merkle's recent research highlights, leadership must guide the entire organization on its transformative journey.
The "Customer-Centric Transformation: Five Keys to Leading Successful Change" report collected insight from 353 respondents across industries from both B2B and B2C companies to assess how large U.S. organizations drive value throughout the enterprise using CRM. This study looked at overall perceptions of CRM and explored factors correlated with successful execution, with a particular focus on how leadership impacts the success of an initiative and vice versa. The following statistics highlight some of the primary findings from this survey:
- Organizations that are furthest away from their ideal state of operation cite lack of clear organization ownership of customer insight (53 percent), management bandwidth and priorities (43 percent), and lack of executive sponsorship (38 percent) as their top three challenges.
- Aside from each brand's product, segmentation (35 percent), customer insight (33 percent), and brand (32 percent) were the next top-three value generators according to those polled.
- For executives, acquisition (46 percent), retention (35 percent), and expanding revenue among existing clients (34 percent) rank as the top business priorities.
- While 55 percent of respondent cited having a centralized customer analytics function that serves all business units, high-growth organizations (those with most revenue growth and profitability growth) are more than twice as satisfied with their analytics tools (50 percent versus 20 percent) than very satisfied and delighted respondents.
- High-growth companies are 2.9x better at collaborating with employees outside their departments for the benefit of customers, 2.5x better at predicting and preparing for the future by proactively evaluating trade-offs, and 2.1x better at analyzing, deciding, and acting upon decisions related to customers.
From the data collected, researchers evaluated what the top performers were doing to ensure success, thus creating the five essential elements for customer-centric transformations:
The Keys to Successful CRM Change
1. Sponsorship: Champion the Cause-Companies must align leaders and engage decision-makers by clearly outlining the quantifiable benefits of their efforts in order to gain senior level support. These strategies must either solve an issue that limits company growth or capitalize on new insights to gain the competitive advantage.
2. Customer Vision: Showcase the New Customer Vision-Customer interactions must transcend the average intellectual or analytical conversation to become an emotional dialogue that supports the brand's evolving customer vision. Thus, companies must make it easy for employees at all levels to understand the operating changes to come and how said transformations will bring added value to both the customer and the organization.
3. Target Operating Approach: Come to Terms (with Change and Your Cohorts)-To effectively implement change, companies must make it clear to employees that adjustments cannot be avoided and that everyone across all levels of the organization will have to master the new tools and methods necessary for success. This new operating approach will ultimately bring clarity to the changes in decision-making and day-to-day activities. All employees must be on the same page and understand that things will be different and that they will constantly need to adapt for continued success.
4. Planning and Financial Commitments: Commit to the Plan-This phase, which applies more directly to executive leadership and senior management, emphasizes how planning and financial commitment must set the pace for change in order to keep employees at all levels focused on the desired outcome. The entire organization must agree to deliver new customer experiences and how the organization should operate, then act on this plan. Often times, meetings generate ideas, but the organization never carries out these actions. Instead, companies must establish measurable commitment to change.
5. Implementation and Change Management: Unapologetic Execution-With preparation and planning complete, companies must make strides to implement the desired changes to generate business value. Companies should also aim to make these changes on scope, on budget, and on time, though issues are bound to arise along the way. Ultimately, regular communication is an essential way to demonstrate progress and encourage continued engagement, interest, and focus throughout the organization.
Key takeaway: Merkle highlights that, for companies to gain an advantage in today's competitive market, successful change derives from effective leadership. Leaders must work to align their entire organization as the company makes changes and moves forward, showing all involved exactly how this transformation will benefit shareholders, customers, and the company itself. Leaders are those with the ability to take an organization on a journey somewhere new and unknown-a place that's always changing. Essentially, a leader's work is never done. Leadership embodies change and the failure to change is a failure on the part of the company's leaders. Those in charge must be prepared to fully invest their time and energy in these efforts, for it is this high-level buy-in that encourages and convinces employees across all departments and levels that they are all on the same team working toward the same goal: customer centricity.