Some of you who watch the Animal Planet channel may know about a show called My Cat from Hell. In each episode Jackson Galaxy, a musician by night and cat behavioral expert by day, works with cat owners who are at their wits end and are desperate for a change in their situation. As it turns out, the owners are often more responsible for how bad things have gotten than the cats.
To anyone who has gone through an implementation of CRM, does that sound somewhat familiar, at least in some areas of the project? We bring home a cat (or CRM) with certain expectations, not necessarily having thought it out correctly and figuring that things will just work out. When it starts to go south we scratch our heads wondering why?
Even though cats and CRM are about as different as dogs and ERP, there are similar things that should be considered and practices that should be followed in bringing either one into our environment and making them a part of the “family”. These will help ensure success for both types of undertakings. Here are some questions and comments that have to be considered to onboard your CRM (and maybe even a cat).
1. What is CRM anyway?
Let’s start by mentioning something that CRM is not. By itself a CRM system is not the answer to your prayers and may complicate things if you don’t understand that it’s just a tool. In reality Customer Relationship Management is a philosophy, actually more like a belief system if you really want to implement it successfully. You need a vision, a philosophy on how to deal with Customers, and an idea of what CRM success looks like. Once you have a vision you can start to expand upon it by incorporating the appropriate use of the CRM tool.
2. What’s the Plan?
It’s not enough just to “want a CRM system” (or a cat). You’ve got to have a focused approach and a clear definition of specific goals. Consider your entire organization as you examine, plan and define the role of the CRM. This will increase the probability of CRM success. In the same way bringing a new cat into a house most likely adversely affects the rest of the household initially, a new CRM may induce some stress for a short while. Plan ahead and anticipate how everyone will be affected and take preemptive action where necessary.
3. Who is going to take care of it?
How many times have we heard this question before? When you bring a new CRM system into your business, make sure someone is responsible for helping to introduce, nurture and maintain it. Management needs to support the effort overtly through communication, resource allocation and by promoting accountability.
4. Why do we need one?
Great question – each company needs to spend quality time to come up with specific answers and examples so those answers can be communicated through the ranks. If done correctly, answering this will also help provide the answer to the next question that the troops will have . . .
5. What’s in it for me?
User acceptance of CRM is very key to a successful implementation. User benefits should be included in the deliverables, so make sure you can articulate these to your staff at or before launch. If users don’t understand what’s in it for them, they aren’t going to accept it. It’s up to Management to help them understand why they should want to use CRM. In almost every case, using CRM means additional data entry for users and operating in ways that may be different than they are used to. Show them specifically how CRM will benefit them.
6. I’ve never had one before . . .
In order to hold users accountable and to help them be productive using CRM, Management needs to make sure the users get the training and support they need. I wish more companies would allocate adequate resources for training. A user who doesn’t know what he is doing is probably going to be reluctant to use the system. Worse, they will use it incorrectly and your data will be the worse for it. Concentrate on people getting their critical CRM tasks done correctly to start, rather than expecting them to master the entire system right away.
7. It keeps changing!!
Business evolves rapidly and your CRM should evolve with it. Pay attention to the gaps between what CRM is doing vs. what your business needs it to do. At go-live your work is not finished — it is only beginning. There is still a real need for regular process and system review, training and redefinition of your vision.
On My Cat from Hell, the goal is to prevent rehoming the cats and training owners to rethink how they manage their felines. Most of the time they succeed but it takes some time and effort.
Think ahead and work with a good CRM partner to avoid having to relaunch your CRM project. Even though CRM is not a cat, not taking the time or effort to follow best practices and to execute a plan to achieve your vision can result in you being a candidate for the next episode of “My CRM from Hell”.
By John Clifton, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Consultant with xRM3, a Microsoft partner specializing in Dynamics CRM consulting, implementation, integration and Microsoft Dynamics CRM administrative services. Based in San Diego County Southern California.