Strategy•Oct 31, 2012
A Leader’s Guide: How Not to Fail at One of your Company’s Most Significant Software Investments – CRM Part III
Now that you’ve put in place the governance to oversee the tool, and now that you’ve trained your team on how to use it, you have to instill a customer-centric mindset across the organization to ensure that your new tool drives increased sales and bottom-line profits. You need your team to understand a fundamental truth about CRM: It is more than a tool; it is a way of doing business. As your enterprise shifts toward this new way of thinking, the governance organization will need to conduct regular assessments and implement recommended adjustments to continue to develop those skills. Some of those adjustments, as mentioned in previous blogs, will be new features to the tool and new training programs. However, some adjustments may be more radical. Eventually, your enterprise may need to evaluate how it is organized to most effectively realize the benefits of CRM—both the tool and the mindset.
As the CRM tool, process, and mindset become increasingly a part of your organization, a need for new positions within the enterprise will almost certainly surface. Some of these new roles may be augmenting roles within existing functions. For example, finance may need a specific liaison with external customers or internal account representatives to help understand the financial and reporting support that existing and new customers need from your organization. Some of these new roles will be entirely unrelated to existing roles. For example, you may determine that you need a cohort of “train the trainers” to teach all levels of your organization the proper use of the CRM tool, and, as importantly, the mindset assumptions that underpin customer-centricity. These new roles may be staffed either internally or externally, but in either case they must be filled with “A Players,” i.e., those who will do the job and do it best. After all, these new roles are integral to changing the enterprise culture to focus on the customer, spurring higher sales, intelligent innovation, and, ultimately, higher profits.
In addition to new roles, there may come new reporting and accountability relationships. As groups are assigned the tasks of delivering customer-centric projects and transforming into customer-centric entities, they will need to be held accountable to their new goals. This transformation could be facilitated by new reporting relationships or new metrics for success. One enterprise may choose to create a new executive role that directs all customer-centric initiatives. This executive would need authority over the existing lines of business to enable him or her to deliver what is required: a customer-centric enterprise. Another organization may choose to assign these various tasks to newly formed committees with authority structures already established. Still others may add customer-centric metrics—e.g. a net promoter score—to their organization’s formal evaluation criteria. As long as there is accountability, the chances of success increase.
Sometimes, total re-organizations are necessary. These cases are delicate and must be handled with focus, vision, and sensitivity to all involved. After all, re-organizations bring drastic changes to the enterprise and to the culture, but they may be the necessary step to success in customer-centricity. Drastic measures can succeed when incremental ones fail. Executives need a vision of what the organizational structure will look like, with roles and reporting lines explicitly defined. Employees will be asked to change what they have been doing, and in some cases, what they have been doing for years. Leaders need to be sensitive to the relationships with these employees and provide security for them, allow them a way to express their concerns, and then actively address those concerns.
Thus, a CRM-focused re-organization is far more than simply re-arranging boxes on an org chart. In fact, CRM is an enterprise-wide, strategic change that will drive sales, profitability, and, ultimately, the innovation and mindset that will take your organization for the future. CRM is not for the faint of heart, and it cannot be done halfway. However, doing it properly will ensure that your organization thrives in the knowledge economy of the future.