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StrategyNov 29, 2010

Is Your Organization Ready for Enterprise-wide CRM?

Katherine Moffitt

An effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution is the set of processes and technologies that enable and support an organizational culture strategically focused on acquiring, cultivating, and retaining customers by identifying and satisfying those customers’ needs. More simply stated, CRM is putting the customer at the center of an enterprise built around serving the customer.

Before moving forward with anything termed “enterprise-wide,” the organizational and cultural aspects of the company must first be considered. In the case of CRM, a customer-focused mindset must precede the implementation of new business processes or technology to build the best foundation for success. Consider the following questions before getting started.

Are there organizational challenges that prevent your organization from putting the customer at the center?

An organization comprised of silos that operate as their own entities will find it is a challenge to think about the customer as the focal point for the entire organization. Each group within a silo-prone organization tends to focus on its specific piece of the customer, but not on the customer as a whole. Similarly, organizations that have grown by acquisition may also find that the customer is at the center of their focus – but that focus may be spread across different business areas instead of centralized across all of them.

For enterprise-wide CRM to be successful, each area of the organization needs to work together to earn the customer. An organizational realignment may be necessary to break down silos, integrate departments with duplicate service offerings, and ensure all teams are working toward the same end-goal. An organization built around the needs of the customer is set up for success with enterprise-wide CRM.

Are there cultural challenges that prevent your organization from putting the customer at the center?

Sales employee incentives can encourage positive or negative behavior toward customer centricity. If sales teams are competing against each other to win the same customer, they will not be inclined to adopt a CRM solution that is intended to centralize customer information and share that information across the organization.

Take a close look at your commission structure, as well as other in-place incentives, to ensure it encourages sales teams to work together instead of competing against each other, and make adjustments if needed. An organization that is organized and incented to work together is more likely to embrace enterprise-wide CRM.

Is there sufficient sponsorship to reinforce a customer focused mindset?

Before introducing an enterprise-wide CRM solution, it is important to have strong executive support. The leaders of the organization must buy into the goals and benefits of the solution. The leaders must understand the answers to “what’s in it for me” and “’what’s in it for my department.” A united front and consistent message from executives will ease the transition for all employees and build momentum around the initiative from the beginning.

If executive support and sponsorship is lacking, take the time to build a consensus of support before moving forward with processes and technologies. It only takes one uncooperative department to take the implementation off track or dilute the effectiveness of the solution.

An organization with a culture centered on the customer where customer needs are the basis for strategic decisions made within the organization is ready to implement enterprise-wide CRM.

Answer “Yes” to the following questions and you are culturally ready for an Enterprise-wide CRM

· Are you willing to make the hard choices to reorganize if siloed departments are competing for the same customer?

· Visibility by the entire organization to customer information can be uncomfortable but is required to see real return and move from managing transactions to building relationships. Are you ready to trust?

· Executive alignment is paramount. Are you ready to have the right discussions to get the right people in agreement?

· Moving the customer to the center can represent a real paradigm shift for organizations that sell and deliver. Making this shift can be arduous as it does not happen overnight. Are you willing to spend the time and resources to make this journey a dedicated part of the program?

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