Social CRM: Use it and Implement it properly

Michael Maoz at Gartner shares with us in his blog post Social CRM: Made for the Cloud, AND Requires care/feeding a good reminder that any technology, whether social networks, crm systems, or your iPhone is only as good as the strategy and execution behind it. As we collectively race to harness, leverage, and integrate social media into our business models, it is important to always keep the customer at the forefront and engage them in a meaningful, intentional way.

Here is an easy way to advance your abilities in understanding the customer’s intent: leverage communities. Most of you work hard to move every transaction to something automated: voice response, email, online self service, kiosk, ATM – and in so doing lose the ability to understand what the customer might be trying to tell you about their wants and needs. But a social network, properly observed, analyzed, and maybe even participated in more on that piece in another blog can yield insight into how you as an organization need to change if you are going to win customer loyalty.

Just tossing up a social site, or giving customers the tools to interact, won’t help. You will be heading towards a more Social CRM that will require the same discipline that most of us failed to maintain with our previous pre-social networks CRM initiatives. Without corporate commitment, you might as well be handing out sharp knives to a party of three year olds – someone’s going to get hurt.


Without the focus on the customer, social media and social CRM become the latest fad and tech gadget until the next generation comes along. Focus on your customers. Learn to listen, observe, and interact with them in a way that adds value.

Avoid 3 Roads to CRM Disaster

Rich Cook, in his article below,reminds us that CRM is largely about strategy, people, and processes. With a CRM implementation, there are a ton of moving parts to measure and keep track of. Making sure that you are attending to the 3 items below will give you a great shot at success, and most importantly, increased profitability.

3 Roads to CRM Disaster

Know the signs to avoid these all too common CRM hazards.

By Rick Cook | April 23, 2009

A few years ago, analysts were reporting failure rates as high as 50 to 70 percent for CRM projects. While companies have gotten more savvy about CRM and how to implement it, the failure rate for the software still remains high.

Part of that rate depends on the definition of “failure” as well as unrealistic expectations. But the fact remains that many CRM projects fail in the sense of not delivering the estimated increases to the bottom line, customer satisfaction and other endpoint metrics.

While the details, and the definitions, of these failures often vary significantly, they usually come down to the same major errors.

Here are three pitfalls you want to avoid with CRM:

1. Concentrating on the technology at the expense of the people: CRM is not technology. Instead, it uses technology to support sales and marketing’s efforts to get closer to your customers.

Implementing CRM starts well before you purchase the system or even decide which software to use. It begins with a clear definition of CRM goals, project requirements and success factors. In other words, what are you trying to do, what will you need to do it and how will you know when you’ve succeeded? This also has to include a careful analysis of your sales process, its strengths and weaknesses and where you need to improve.

This definition phase is doubly important because not all CRM packages are created equal. Like companies, they have different strengths and weaknesses and you need to choose one which matches your needs. All of them have the same general functionality but they vary in how well and how completely they do different jobs.

Similarly, you have to consider the nature of your business when choosing a CRM solution. If your business involves long sales cycles of high-value equipment with multiple decision makers, you want to emphasize different things in your sales strategy than if you’re selling lower-cost goods on a fast sales cycle with many repeat customers.

Because CRM makes heavy use of computers, it’s easy to confuse it with technology. In fact, the history of CRM implementation is rife with projects which were a technical success — delivered on time and within budget — but which were practical failures because the project didn’t deliver the bottom-line benefits.

If you equate technology with CRM, you’ll probably end up confusing your employees and annoying your customers.

2. Not having everyone aboard: According to Gartner Group, most CRM failures are the result of user errors rather than technological ones.

The most common of these failures, experts agree, is not having everyone on the same page. A successful CRM effort has support from all staff and widespread agreement on the goals and methods of the CRM project. That includes the sales staff, whom will use the CRM tools, and top management, whom must provide the drive and oversight for the project.

A full CRM implementation requires wide-ranging changes throughout your sales and marketing organization. If the people who have to execute your new CRM strategy don’t understand and agree with what you’re doing, you’ll most likely have a failure.

Likewise, a CRM project needs realistic, enthusiastic support from management at all levels, including a manager or managers who will champion the project and help to keep it on track. This kind of broad-based support is critical and it usually doesn’t happen automatically. It has to be built. To repeat an often-stressed theme, CRM requires selling inside your company.

Stress the benefits that CRM will bring to your staff. The fact that a CRM system will give you greater control over your sales process isn’t nearly as important to your sales reps as the potential to increase sales, and hence profits. On the other hand, it’s likely to be much more important to the managers above you. When you talk about CRM’s benefits, stress the ones that the people you are talking to are likely to be most interested in.

It’s also important to realize that the job of getting and keeping everyone aboard doesn’t end when the CRM project goes live. The sales staff has to be constantly encouraged, reminded and sometimes pushed to use CRM tools. Managers have to be shown through clear metrics how the CRM effort is paying off.

In making CRM work, both in implementation and in ongoing use, feedback is critical. You’re almost certainly going to have to adjust the project as you go along, and to get it right you’re going to have to rely on feedback from all levels. More than most project implementations, CRM is a matter of constantly adjusting to get things “right” under continuously changing conditions.

3. Not putting the customer first: By its nature, CRM is customer-centric. The CRM model tries to increase sales by focusing on and building better relations with the customer.

A successful CRM implementation improves the customer experience. One that fails makes the customer less willing to deal with you. This is an important metric, even if it isn’t always as easy to see.

One place where success with the customers shows up is in the bottom line. An effective CRM implementation makes it easier and more pleasant for customers to buy from you. This shows up not just in increased sales, but in increased sales per customer, increased cross-selling and up-selling and other measures of sales activity. However, this is only a surrogate. You need to listen carefully to your customers to find out what they like and don’t like.

None of these causes for failure is rocket science — or even high school chemistry. They can be easily avoided, as many companies do each year. While that requires some knowledge of the warning signs, mostly it is a matter of attention to detail and understanding where CRM fits into your sales and marketing organization.

via Inside CRM – 3 Roads to CRM Disaster

Six (wait, Seven) Questions Every Company Should be asking themselves now related to Social Media

Guido Oswald, in his blog post, Are Facebook and Twitter just new channels? makes the assertion that Facebook and Twitter might revolutionize CRM as we know it.

I would argue that Social Networks are primarily another lead generation source, and is rapidly becoming THE MEDIUM by which customers prefer to use.

The fundamentals have been around for a long time. Customers want to have a conversation about what is important to them and will align themselves with individuals and companies that best meet their needs with a valuable solution. The technology has enabled this to happen as never before.

The statistics are staggering. The next chasm to cross is how to transition those social media conversations into the transactional based CRM (which by the way is important, too), and at what point?

Either way, the questions below are pertinent for all companies to ask themselves. I would add the the list – “How Can I get my customer base talking to each other, and then listen, learn, and/or engage or intercede at appropriate times?”

Adapting to the new consumer behavioral patterns leads us to what I call a CRM 2.0 strategy any other term will do as well as long as it has the same meaning and results.

New questions must be asked:

1. How can I have a meaningful conversation with my customers?

2. How can I engage customers to take an active part in this conversation?

3. How can I leverage the knowledge and willingness of customers?

4. Does my corporate culture allow meaningful conversations what changes are required?

5. Do I know the little aches and pains of my customers? Are they dealt with?

6. Who are my customers and where / whom do the talk about products and services?

Customer Retention in Tough Times

As we collectively try to gain visibility to what is happening in the marketplace, the following contains some good basic reminders of necessary requirements to survive in the marketplace today. I’d love to hear about how your company has implemented some of the ideas below and how that has helped your organization succeed.

No doubt as the recession takes hold companies are at risk to lose more customers than new ones coming in.

The problem: If you don’t invest in keeping and developing your existing clients – especially in tough times – then it’s more than likely that your business will decline.

You’re no doubt familiar with the mantra that states that it costs about 5 times more to bring in a new customer than to sell to existing customers.

So the question is what are you doing to communicate with your customers? Do you have a structured customer development program to upsell, cross sell and above all manage your relationships in such a way to make sure these customers – whom you’ve already spent a long of money acquiring – from walking?

Here are some ideas you may want to focus on:

1. Establish a systematic, formal process to cultivate and grow high potential accounts

2. Create a schedule to “touch” key accounts regularly

o Build variable schedule based upon account potential not current value of the relationship

3. Develop a strategy to manage marginal accounts those that cannot be effectively managed by the sales force

o Outsource is one way to go

4. Raise awareness of new products and services

5. Under promise – over deliver

via B2B Sales and Marketing Blog

Survey Results: Social Media and B2B Selling

The buzz about Social Media and Social CRM abound, but more and more people are begininng to evaluate the effectiveness of investing in Social Media

With the help of the TAS Group, Dave Stein and his company ES Research Group just completed a very interesting study–”The New Social Media: Do They Enable B2B Selling?”–which measures the top social media tools’ effectiveness in B2B selling. You can take a look at the key findings at http://www.esresearch.com/socialmedia the executive summary is available here. The survey was filled out by nearly 400 sales professionals in the U.S.

For the lazy or only mildly interested, here is where they ranked in order of effectiveness:

1. Hoover’s/OneSource is the most helpful in winning B2B Sales at 54%, although 61% of those surveyed used it

2. LinkedIn is more widely used than other social media platforms, with 86% of those surveyed using it, but it helped in winning sales for 42% of those surveyed

3. Twitter is being used by almost a third of those surveyed 31%, but is only producing results for 13% more thoughts on this later

4. Plaxo and Facebook are being used by about half of those surveyed 50% and 48% respectively, who claim be to similar traction as with Twitter – 13% and 15% respectively

The report’s conclusions were…

LinkedIn is the favorite and most-used

Twitter is an anomaly, too new to fully gauge, possibly it will be limited to specific industries as an effective sales tool

Facebook is for family and friends

Fee-based services like Hoover’s and OneSource are very strong in their following and utility

via Social Media and B2B Sales: Survey Says…

Just 100 Days away from Customer Lifecycle Management | Graham Hill, Customers & More

Graham Hill presents a great framework for rolling out a Customer Lifecycle Management initiative. In the sea of opportunity and moving parts, the ability to execute the delivery of a focused project plan is key if you are to realize the unlocked potential that exists within your existing and future customer base.

One other key point that could go unnoticed is that you’ll see after the 100 day plan, he points to Kaizen, a method of continuous improvement, which surprisingly goes unnoticed in many CRM implementations. The initial launch is only the beginning of the journey towards increasing profitablity.

Customer Lifecycle Management in 100 Days!

By Graham Hill, Customers & More

The recession is forcing companies to rethink how they do CRM. Gone are the ‘big-iron’ CRM projects of yesterday with multi-million budgets, inflexible two-year project plans and ROIs that were little better than inspired guesswork. In their place is a new approach to CRM, based upon running projects as internal corporate ventures that deliver tangible results, at low cost, within 100 days.

To make internal venturing work for CRM, it needs to be based upon three parts, each of which supports the others.

  1. Proven CRM Theory – The first part is a thorough understanding of proven CRM theory. This provides a robust platform upon which to build an internal venture project. Without this platform, it is all too easy just to copy other companies’ CRM projects without understanding how they need changing to suit your company’s unique capabilities. Proven CRM theory provides the know what.
  2. Detailed CRM Practice – The second part is detailed experience implementing CRM projects and operating them afterwards. This provides a practical framework for planning the CRM project, piloting it in stages, implementing it and then operating it afterwards. But experience by itself is not enough. You also need to understand enough CRM theory to know how to adapt experience with other companies to your own situation, particularly during planning and early piloting. Getting it right at the beginning will mean that you don’t have to significantly change the project later on, when it is much more disruptive and costly to do so. Detailed CRM Practice provides the know how.
  3. A 100 Day Project Plan – The final part is a 100 day project plan, setting out how you will implement CRM and start delivering tangible results within 100 days. Obviously, you can’t deliver an enterprise-wide CRM programme, e.g. telco Billing & Collection, in 100 days. But you can break larger programmes down into smaller 100 day projects that you can more easily manage for results And by results I mean delivering project milestones, on-time, in-full, to-budget. Only by running projects as internal ventures can you ensure delivery of results, with whatever resources are available, at a minimum cost. A 100 day project plan provides the CRM blueprint to get started.

So how do 100 day projects work in practice?

Recently, I directed a small team that implemented Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) for a national operating company of a major mobile telecoms provider, all within 100 days. The lifecycle of the 100-day project was broken down into five stages:

  • First 10 Days – Feasibility – The first 10 days should be spent understanding the company’s current CRM capabilities, who the key resource holders are and planning the project milestones and costs in detail. The time should also be spend arranging for critical data required later in the project to be available just in time. One of the biggest problems in CLM projects is data not being available when required.
  • Days 11-50 – Soft Pilot – The next 40 days should be spent developing and running a ‘soft pilot’ of CLM for the highest priority target customers. This includes gathering data, developing propensity models for e.g. customers likely to churn, creating attractive propositions, programming the campaign management system, developing marketing communications, arranging fulfilment for customers that respond and of course, reporting results. The idea of a soft pilot is that the CLM capabilities are tested manually to ensure that everything works as intended. Inevitably, some things don’t and soft piloting gives you the chance to fix them before they are automated in the next stage.
  • Days 51-70 – Hard Pilot – The next 20 days should be spend automating the soft pilot once it is working smoothly and repeating the soft pilot process for next the highest priority target customers. Once the soft pilot from the previous stage has been run smoothly without any problems a number of times, it can be automated. This includes automating data feeds, customer scoring by the propensity models, offer selection for customers, the whole campaign delivery and fulfilment process and reporting. Early results should also be examined in detail and changes made to targeting, offers and communications to hopefully improve results. The soft pilot process should also be repeated for the next highest priority target customers. You may have decided that retaining customers likely to churn is the highest priority. These customers would have been soft piloted in the previous stage and hard piloted in this one. The next higest priority might be customers you think are likely to increase in value, or to take up a particular product. They would be soft piloted in this stage prior to being hard piloted in the next one.
  • Days 71-100 – Implementation – The last 30 days should be spent hard piloting the next highest priority target customers from the previous stage and standardising the whole CLM process across the business. In the previous two stages, the CLM process has been systematically tested and automated across prioroty customers. In this stage, the process is standardised across the business so that it becomes daily business for all staff operating it in the future. This includes measuring, monitoring and managing the business by the results delivered. As this will form the basis for all future CLM activities, it is essential that this stage is carried out by the company staff who will operate CLM in the future. It can be challenging to get operational staff to change their emphasis from doing activities to delivering results, but it is essential if CLM is to deliver the results expected of it. Customers’ behaviour is continuously changing and CLM needs to continuously change with it.
  • Post 100 Days – Kaizen – The post 100 day period should be spend further standardising the CLM process and in improving all aspects of CLM. This includes, improving the results of individual campaigns, improving underperforming propensity models and improving the operation of CLM. Although lean processes should be implemented automatically during CLM’s development, the pressures of managing internal ventures with a 100 day target mean that this is not always possible. Just applying lean thinking to business processes can reduce non-value-adding costs by up to 20-40% and process cycle-time by a similar amount.

This project delivered multi-million Euros of annual incremental revenue, on a total customer base of less than 5 million and a targeted customer base much smaller still. All for a total outlay of less than Euro 250,000. And all up and running by the telco’s own staff within 100 days. You can work out the ROI for yourself.

Find Out More, Get the Presentation

I have presented and run whole day workshops showing how ‘You Can Do CLM in 100 Days’ at a number of Telecoms CRM conferences over the past year. Send me an email to graham(dot)hill(at)web(dot)de if you would like me to send you the full presentation.

Risk Proof your CRM Initiative: The top reasons for CRM failure

William Band points out in his article the following results from a recent Forrester survey. I believe one of the key takeaways is that Business Process, People, and Strategy account for 67% of the problems associated with CRM initiatives. The technology is a certainly a component as it must enable the delivery of data and experience to internal and external users, but the true drivers of your success will stem from the strategy and business process.  If you focus there first, your chance of success goes up significantly.

Despite the recession, the need to create differentiation through unique customer experiences, strive for deeper insight into customer needs and behaviors, and serve customers cost-effectively remains. To support achievement of these goals, leading-edge CRM technologies are much easier to use and offer faster time-to-value — driving higher user adoption — compared to solutions available three or four years ago.

A recent Forrester survey, however, found that the risk of CRM failure can still be high. Only about one-third of enterprise-class organizations, and about half of midmarket ones, agreed that “the [CRM] application really improved the end users’ productivity.” Only about half agreed that the “[vendor] professional services team had good technical skills that helped with the implementation.” Over 200 problems were reported, across four categories.

Technology (33 percent): This category comprised functional deficiencies (30 percent), lack of the skill sets needed for implementation (23 percent), data problems (19 percent), and system performance shortfalls (19 percent). With product deficiencies still atop this category, decision-makers should keep a sharp eye on the breadth and depth of any product offering, including specific industry requirements. Evaluate customer data management abilities and usability. Examine how the application integrates with other technology systems. Gauge the size of the vendor’s customer base and the quality of systems integration partners. Examine the depth of human and financial resources available to enhance products.

Business Processes (27 percent): This group included technical/integration difficulties in supporting company processes (48 percent), poor business process design (31 percent), and the need to customize solutions (21 percent). Can you avoid these risks? At one diversified chemicals company with inflexible business processes across different lines of business (LOBs), business process experts were assigned to each business unit. These key individuals, who came from the business and not from IT, were chosen for their ability to identify the most important business needs. The business process experts were given the authority to make decisions for their group, and were responsible for designing and managing necessary workflow items pertinent to their operating LOBs. A quarterly review process ensures that, as business processes change, new requirements are captured and incorporated into the IT plan for future releases.

People (22 percent): The key pitfalls here were difficulties in achieving user adoption (49 percent), insufficient planning/attention given to change management (36 percent), and cultural resistance to new ways of working (15 percent). One global medical-products company, suffering from very low user adoption of CRM, implemented a program whereby any user could submit a question about the CRM application. These were reviewed by the CRM project team, which conducted a monthly survey to collect broader feedback from users. The team then conducted short information sessions with users to address specific issues. As a result, users came to realize the potential of the application, increasing adoption.

Strategy (18 percent): Comprising CRM strategy and deployment issues, this category included inadequate methodologies (40 percent), poorly defined requirements (25 percent), not achieving alignment on objectives (18 percent), and failing to tightly manage costs (18 percent). Successful CRM projects require a constant balancing of objectives, priorities, resources, and schedules. One financial services company created a CRM steering committee (senior IT and business unit heads with direct accountability to the board of directors), and a program committee (project and operations managers) that allocates resources as needed.

Reporting to the program committee is a project team of IT managers; the project team meets with its business counterparts every two weeks to monitor progress and document and resolve issues or escalate them to the program committee. Under this structure, there is a clear line of accountability, and decision-making processes are well defined.

via Small Business – Risk-Proofing Your CRM Initiative