Why CRM won’t work in your business


by Rob Keogh | 12 February 2020

A CRM won’t work in your business because people don’t believe it will work for them.
If you deal with more than a few dozen customers per year, you will not find a business leader or expert that will tell you not to implement the latest technology including a CRM (Customer Relationship Management system). You may however be surprised at the resistance you will get from your team. Here is an outline of what I regularly experience:

Using a CRM will change "the way we’ve always done things”. Key people from front line administration, to staff working in the field and even section managers, all will have to do things differently. They will all have to use the one system when they’ve always developed their own ways for “efficiently” delivering their role.

To force everyone to update records in one place and follow one regimented process all the time will slow things down. It is entirely unrealistic. There is also the added cost to the business. It will upset everything. It will require the whole business to change and cost a lot of money.

To prove what a bad idea a CRM is, one of the team Googled some figures and found that around half (50%) of CRM implementations fail! This is a fact, based on real data from Gartner and other legitimate studies.

Don’t implement a CRM – that approach will fail.
You will always find that if you ask the wrong question, you will get the wrong answer. Forget CRM, it’s just a tool. Before you start, ask yourself why you are even considering using a CRM. So, what problem/s do you need to solve?

  • Revenue efficiency?
  • Customer service quality and consistency?
  • Dependence on individual staff?
  • Managing sales performance?
  • Visibility of data and reports?
  • Transparency of action and status?
  • Driving and recording key communications?
  • Consistent and reliable data and outcomes?
  • Automation of manual processes?
  • Increase response time and efficiency?
  • One source of truth?
  • Other ???
  • All of the above . . .
That is a lot of challenges for one piece of technology to resolve. It is easy to see why half the implementations fail. Who would be responsible for achieving all that?

What is the one thing that is important in business?
A replicable framework. If you can’t replicate success, you can never grow.

If you can’t replicate what you do, then cost, quality and outcomes will be different each time.

The argument for implementing technology is to create one unified system as opposed to individual personalised systems.

A McDonalds Big Mac is no culinary masterpiece, but you know exactly what you are going to get every time. You also know that the service and cleanliness will be of a consistently high standard. What I find amazing about McDonalds, is that it is a multi-billion-dollar international success that at the front line is substantially run by 15-year-olds. That's a replicable framework. Does any staff in a McDonalds store make up their own process – ever?

The technology enables the strategy
To achieve a consistent, replicable structure you cannot just rely on people. Structure is what you keep after talent walks out the door. You also can’t just rely on technology. While AI and tools will go a long way, there are intrinsic human skills required to decode and drive human interactions, needs and relationships.

To compete in business requires strategic thinking, innovation and creativity. A successful business, requires a performance framework of people, process and technology (PPT).

The first essential step, in implementing a technology, is to develop your strategy and design one smooth process that enhances the customer experience and maximises lifetime customer value.

The second thing is not to get caught up in all the features of individual tools. It is likely your end-to-end process will require the integration and careful tuning of a number of applications. You won’t know which applications you will need until you have dreamt your ideal process and specified the outcomes you require.

So, do you want to change the whole business?
It sounds like such an effort – especially if it only has a 50% chance of success. Why take the risk?

The real question is what do you want to achieve? What is your strategy? Do you want to compete with the best?

The truth is that it’s now 2020. It is a digital world. Most, if not all sales and customer interactions occur or at least start online. You only need a CRM if you want to increase profit and grow your business. A CRM is the first essential tool you need if you are going to create an integrated, efficient and consistent customer experience.

Any process where information is recorded in an offline application, that is disconnected from other sets of data (including email, spreadsheets, word documents, quotes, job sheets and invoices), increases cost. Manual data input into application silos is a significant administration cost that is substantially wasted.

Data-driven decision making
Too many business decisions are made based on a round table of opinions and gut instinct. Running a business without access to real data is like trying to fight Conner McGregor with one foot tied behind your back.

It should worry you that you can probably Google more live performance stats on your local footy team, to evaluate a $20 online bet, than you can find to support key business decisions.

Your whole business investment, your house and future success is riding on the quality of your decisions.

What about the staff and changing the whole business?
How do you transform a footy team from wooden-spooners to premiers? You have to get all players to buy into the need to change. You also need to create the vision and belief that it is possible for the team to be competition leaders. (It is also likely there could be some culling and changes in roles required.)

The most important person that must be 100% committed is you. Once you and the team have designed the ideal strategy and process, there can be no exceptions; no protected roles or parts of the business excluded.

The businesses that fail have either compromised the framework, or otherwise chosen a CRM system or process that is too complicated.

Digital transition is a process. There is an old Chinese proverb that says; The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago.
The second best time is now.

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