Growing up, I was always around food. My father was a chef who was not only a fantastic businessman who restored old restaurants, but he was also just a great cook. So began my love affair of trying out well-prepared and delicious food of all kinds. Of course, one of the natural byproducts of this hobby is the battle of the bulge, and like many people, I was always looking for a quick victory in that fight. And like anyone who opts for a “magic pill” to lose weight, I was sorely disappointed, as the pounds piled back on with a vengeance after what seemed like an initially speedy success.
It took a while, but I soon learned there’s no such thing as instant gratification when it comes to achieving and maintaining your optimal weight and fitness level. It takes dedication to the mission, a clear vision of what you’re aiming for and hard work. It brings to mind Olympic athletes or professional sporting teams. Far from instant gratification, winning for these performers is a team effort that relies on the dedication of a coaching staff, a healthy diet, collaboration and even data analysis — an entire support system is built around them that works in concert to achieve their goals.
So it is with customer relationship management systems. Often, CRM systems and cloud-based solutions are sold as a “secret sauce” or “magic bullet” that will bring instant success. But people who have bought into this diet pill vision often do not address the fundamental questions of what is broken in the business, such as strategy alignment, customer centricity, a shared vision of what the business is trying to achieve and the willingness to see it through.
These businesses join the sad statistics that surround CRM: nearly half suffering technical and integration difficulties, a third reporting project failures due to poor business design and almost a quarter realizing they need to customize their CRM.
After their disappointment, these businesses realize that a piece of technology plugged into the wall is not what delivers value. As John Burton says in his blog post, they suffer the all too painful reality of CRM failure. The benefits of CRM accrue only when you bring the various parts of the enterprise together, aligned and passionate about a common goal, and enable them to work in concert to understand and deliver what customers really need.
In the world of food, there are lots of chefs. But what separates the winners from the losers is the ability to bring together the key elements: delicious food and an environment that inspires employees to put their heart and soul into delivering an indelible experience to customers. And in the world of athletics, it’s the common vision and work of a team that results in success.
Similarly, competitive advantage can be gained through CRM. But it takes hard work. And mostly, it’s not just about the technology box you buy – it requires the intersection and alignment of four components: strategy, processes, people and technology. You need clearly stated business goals and objectives, development of processes that support the strategy, employees who are empowered and supported by the top levels of the organization and technology that supports the new process flows.
So, when it comes to CRM, “think big but start small.” Don’t fall for the magic pill. A successful strategy will require a clear vision of what you are trying to achieve and a passion to see it through.
What past lessons have you learned? Please share your insights, opinions and tips with the community.