Getting the best out of your CRM
By Lisa Witepski
(The following article appeared in an edition of The Journal of Marketing)
Best practices drive results
Ready for a tough discovery? Forget blaming your CRM system for initiatives that don’t go the way they’re planned. The truth is that most ‘CRM failures’ are, in fact, self-inflicted injuries.
When it comes to CRM, there is – unfortunately – no such thing as a short cut. You will not save time or money by dancing around corners; indeed, implementation short-cuts and avoidance of fundamental truths only lead to dead-ins and result in failed implementation, lost investment and the negative baggage that has sadly tarnished CRM’s reputation.
Our learnings in this area were gleaned through a study with over 600 respondents across a representative range of company sizes and market sectors sharing their implementation methods – and with 448 reporting at least partial return on investment (ROI) outcomes – the key findings are safely beyond reasonable margins of statistical error. The findings that follow accurately and objectively represent the experiences of CRM implementers worldwide.
The presence of customer-centric strategies is the leading predictor of CRM success, and by a substantial margin. With customer-friendly business strategies in place, CRM as a whole has a reason for being. It has guiding principles to shape it.
CRM strategies are more likely to succeed when they include development of customer-centric strategies than with accomplishment of any other implementation step. But this isn’t ‘new news’ to many, because without customer-centric strategies, there’s no basis (other than cost-cutting) for the workflow changes, shifts in roles and responsibilities, and work process changes that should follow customer-centric planning during CRM implementation.
However, new or not, this can be hard news to accept. Fundamentally, many companies attempting to implement CRM do not want to become customer-centric. And this creates a problem, because customers attempting CRM in the absence of customer-centric strategies routinely fail.
A finding of note is that within the framework of developing and implementing customer-centric strategies, the presence of customer attrition data and customer satisfaction research finished one-two in importance. That’s strong support for the primacy of customer retention together with customer development as sources of positive CRM outcomes, rather than often assumed primary sources such as new customer acquisition and expense reduction.
Line-level training and support, and making organizational changes finish in a virtual tie for second place as predictors of success. While it’s become axiomatic CRM talk that management cannot mandate line-level participation in practising CRM and using CRM tools, especially not among field sales people, it’s become routine in CRM implementation for management to attempt exactly that. Unfortunately for managers predisposed in this way, investing in people at points of customer contact produces far better outcomes than shifting ‘people investment’ over to software investment.
Similarly, the need for organizational change as a part of CRM implementation is rarely doubted – until implementation time comes, at which point many CRM implementers opt for ‘not rocking the boat’ instead of accepting the need for change. Unfortunately, changing departmental roles and responsibilities is at least a partial ticket to success, whereas ‘playing it safe’ by standing pat organizationally heightens the risk of failure.
Setting measurable goals rounds out the four primary predictors of success. Setting measurable goals sounds easy, but CRM implementers need baseline data to measure against as well as the discipline that measurement provides. Most companies need to invest substantially in customer research in order to set these benchmarks. Ironically, in the relatively few instances where research is considered part of the core CRM implementation, budgets for research are often the first cut. But the data indicate that’s a costly cut, and an unwise one.
What about technology?
No other factors – including software selection methodology and vendor selection – are statically significant predictors of positive outcomes.
This finding does not mean that all CRM systems are functionally equivalent and can be used interchangeably. Each system has its own set of features and capabilities that make it more or less appropriate for the need of each company.
What the data show is that in the absence of the key drivers of success, any implementation will have difficulty achieving positive ROI, regardless of which software system is selected. But in the presence of these key drivers, success was highly likely – regardless of the software system that was used.
It’s likely that most implementers that were accomplishing the key drivers knew which software system best suited their needs, and chose that system. And it is possible that some of the failures that occurred, despite reasonable accomplishment of the four key drivers, might be attributable to selecting a software system not matched to company needs – a situation that’s perhaps caused by senior management (or IT) dictating a software choice more than by any other factor.
Leading the way in CRM in SA
By Carole Johnstone
(The following article appeared in an edition of The Journal of Marketing)
Camsoft, a business consultancy and software reseller in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) market have recently been audited by the Hewson Group (www.hewson.co.uk), a company with an international reputation for accurate market size and trend analysis, specialising in the CRM industry. Camsoft requested the audit to ensure that the CRM ethos was being practiced in the business – at all levels of the business. As this makes for very interesting reading, The Journal of Marketing has summarised the report for the benefit of readers interested in CRM. We hope that you find it interesting reading!
Hewson says that the South African economy is dominated by smaller companies and generally, they have been slower to embrace certain aspects of customer management. As a consequence, a gulf has opened up between the largest organisations and smaller rivals in terms of IT infrastructure and capability. The smaller companies must therefore rely on other elements of competitive advantage.
It goes without saying that smaller companies do not necessarily have smaller problems in terms of how they service their markets. They need to provide levels of customer access and response that are comparable to the bigger competitors vying for the same business. “In a multi-channel world it is not good enough to offer disconnected and incoherent experiences to the customer. Organisations just can’t function properly if their data is not controlled – internal processes are historical anomalies that foster waste and fail to identify or capitalise on opportunities,” says Camsoft MD, Grant Chapman. To remain competitive, smaller companies must therefore adopt increasingly sophisticated solutions. The challenge is to acquire and implement the appropriate systems at an acceptable cost, within an acceptable timeframe and with the correct alignment to business strategy. “The history of CRM tells us that getting it right involves considerable thought beforehand and expert assistance during the implementation,” comments Chapman.
This expert assistance is where Camsoft really scored in the Hewson audit.
The main CRM system sold and serviced by Camsoft is Maximizer. Hewson found that Camsoft’s integration capabilities and development expertise are significant among CRM partners of both Maximizer and other CRM products in that these added-value services allow Camsoft to differentiate themselves from the competition, and provide additional customised solutions where other companies are unable to. Chapman explains: “Hewson were very impressed that we have a team of developers who provide custom-written add-on software to Maximizer in addition to “off-the-shelf” solutions, such as applications that integrate Maximizer CRM with Accpac and Pastel Accounting and SAP, among others. One particularly successful add-on application to Maximizer has been our MaxSMS, a bulk SMS messaging solution which has proved very popular in Europe.”
Hewson also remarked on the company’s CRM Web portal capabilities, a key aspect of Camsoft’s offering. Chapman explains: “An increasing number of customers are demanding a Web-based interface for their CRM solution, whether this is for their internal employee interactions or dealings with their customers. Camsoft’s strength is in being able to provide these solutions, as well as add-ons and customised developments putting the company in a good position with these customers.” A further offering from the company, Hewson noted that Camsoft also differentiates itself from other Maximizer and competing CRM solution providers by offering free electronic and telephone technical support for the lifetime of the products purchased. The report revealed that this aspect of Camsoft’s offering has proved very popular with customers. The standard of service provided to clients by Camsoft is borne out by a recent Customer Satisfaction Survey* conducted by Maximizer Software that showed 88% of Camsoft’s customers that responded to the survey found no complaint with Camsoft’s service.
*This was an independent survey conducted by Maximizer in 2005.
The Hewson report further clarifies that Camsoft offers integrated CRM solutions to a wide range of companies of all sizes, from multinational corporations to small, local family-run businesses. Camsoft’s expertise in vertical markets includes sectors such as IT, Manufacturing, Recruitment, Banking & Finance. As an IT company itself, Camsoft has a good understanding of this sector and has numerous customers in the hardware, software and IT consulting and services business.
“Being a technology-driven sector, Camsoft has been required to provide innovative and advanced solutions to IT companies. This service usually includes a strong web-based component to their CRM solutions. Many of these customers do business with each other and rely on standardised forms and back-office processing systems to integrate their systems. We understand the challenges this presents to a CRM system as we have worked extensively on such projects,” says Chapman. Most of Camsoft’s business is derived from referrals and with this awareness, management makes every effort to ensure that the customer’s experience is a good one from the very beginning. This starts with the initial contact with the customer in that every meeting is properly diarised and logged, and the customer is kept informed at all times as to how their enquiry is being managed and who at Camsoft is assisting them.
A customer manager is always assigned to the customer who will then be the first contact at all times wherever possible, with all interactions recorded in Camsoft’s in-house Maximizer CRM system to ensure that should the customer’s contact at Camsoft not be available for any reason, then another person can assist them with the full knowledge of the customer’s history of interactions with Camsoft. Every aspect of the implementation of Maximizer for a customer is project-managed and the client is kept informed at every step with escalation of outstanding tasks to senior management at Camsoft to ensure that there is seamless service. “As a business selling CRM solutions, it’s really critical that we practice what we preach. This is an important process that helps us to manage the customer’s expectations and to ensure that Camsoft understands their needs at all times. Our customers are also made aware of all the services that we can offer them, what they entail and what investment is required by the customer if they want to use these services,” Chapman comments.
In addition, telephonic and electronic technical support is free and available most hours. For customers requiring a 24 hour SLA, this is also made available. Should a customer feel that they are not getting the service they deserve from Camsoft they are encouraged to bring the matter to the MD’s attention or Maximizer Software themselves who will then assist in ensuring the problem is resolved. Other Professional services offered by Camsoft include installation and maintenance services, user training (both at the client’s premises and an off-site training facility), Service Level Agreements (SLAs), free telephonic and electronic support, CRM consultation services, Pre- and post-installation on-site technical support services, custom solution and product development and integration into other systems. Examples of product development include Camsoft’s free MaxSMS utility that integrates seamlessly with Maximizer, and integration application toolkits for Accpac and Pastel Accounting. Camsoft has also provided numerous custom integration solutions for various other platforms, such as SAP, and has voice telephony and Web site solutions for Maximizer’s CRM range of products.
Customer Management Methodology
Camsoft recognises that every time the company interacts with a customer, the customer’s experience while dealing with the company leads to an enriching or a deterioration of that customer’s perception of the company. This perception is what motivates the customer to refer new business, purchase additional products and services or conversely, complain and take their business elsewhere. It is for this reason that Camsoft continuously monitors the customer’s experience when dealing with the company, and tries to identify what is most important to that customer to ensure that the company and its people, products, processes and culture are aligned across all of these “touch points” to best serve the customer.
“Our information is all managed through our in-house Maximizer CRM solution so that every person interacting with a customer has all of the necessary information at their fingertips. This is how we ensure the customer’s experience continues to be a good one. By providing the appropriate responses to our customer’s requests we can also manage the future experience for individual customers, to the benefit of the customer and ultimately the company,” Chapman explains. To make this work in practice, it’s really important to have the whole team on board – to have a shared ethos throughout the entire company. At Camsoft, the management continuously strives to make staff aware of how important the customer experience is and, in addition to regular feedback sessions, individual customers are contacted from time to time to determine what their experience has been. “This has been particularly important and part of Camsoft’s culture for some time in our technical services department, where it has been important that customers receive the appropriate technical support and are happy with the results of the work done,” says Chapman.
To ensure that the desired customer experience is effectively communicated and sustained throughout the enterprise, Camsoft has implemented standards and performance measurement. The aim at Camsoft is for the entire organisation to have a shared vision of the optimal customer experience, where “random” experiences give way to carefully planned, repeatable and exceptional experiences.
Camsoft offers training on all of their solutions in the main centres of the country and can provide on-demand client specific training in outlying areas. Camsoft’s trainers have received certifications in the highly regarded Train-the-Trainer programmes and where required, custom training can be provided on request. Management are firm advocates of providing new customers with training on product use wherever possible to ensure that the customer reaps the most reward from their software investment. This has been borne out by the experience that the most satisfied customers have usually been those who took the time to properly familiarise their staff with the new software solution when purchasing Maximizer.
“In our view Camsoft have established themselves as a CRM leader in South Africa. Their approach to understanding the business needs of their customers is well thought through and works in practice. The company has technical strength in depth and has a good track record in delivering projects. In particular, Camsoft’s involvement in data security technology will be a valuable platform for providing necessary skills and services as CRM projects become more complex and demanding on supplier abilities.
We believe that Camsoft’s superior knowledge of CRM theory will continue to give them competitive advantage in the South African market despite much increased competition as CRM penetration in South Africa accelerates.”
Camsoft specifically chose Maximizer Software as a partner for their CRM solutions as a result of their own extensive investigations into suitable best-of-breed suppliers of CRM software. Maximizer has proven to be a very successful and major part of Camsoft’s business. Camsoft have proved their success with Maximizer since they have achieved some of the top awards for sales of Maximizer in the whole of EMEA, against stiff opposition from the UK and Mainland Europe. Camsoft have over 1200 clients using Maximizer, ranging in size from SOHO users to large corporates with several hundred licensed users. This experience has enabled Camsoft to assist customers in achieving a much faster ROI.
Maximizer has 2780 Enterprise customers in the EMEA region with a total of 32,400 seats installed. Implementations cover all sectors, including the public sector, and there are over 140 customers with 50 plus users. Projects range from 5 user systems in quite small companies to substantial projects with well known brands such as Scottish Water and Waitrose.
About Hewson Group
Through research and publications, Hewson Group became perhaps the best known CRM analysts in Europe during the nineties. Amongst their publications were The Impact of Computerised Sales and Marketing Systems (1991); Emerging Information Technologies (1993 with Professor Malcolm McDonald and Dr Hugh Wilson); Towards Excellence in Marketing Strategy (with W Hewson, Professor Malcolm McDonald and Dr Hugh Wilson). The Business use of the Internet (1997). Also established were the Sales Productivity Benchmarking Group with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Sistrum – a Europe wide CRM forum.
In the last five years Hewson Group has re-inforced its reputation for accurate market size and trend information and has been involved with some of the worlds largest vendors for both strategic advisory work and for Merger and Acquisitions assignments.
In 2001 Hewson Group became involved in leading edge work in two areas: Public Sector and Corporate Reporting standards. Hewson published CRM in the Public Sector in 2002 followed by Towards a Citizen Centric Authority: Beyond CRM, E Govt and the Modernizing Agenda (W Hewson, A Meekings; May 2004).
CRM solves the productivity puzzle
The productivity crisis
According to the latest Eurostat Labour Productivity Index, Europe & South Africa are not only faced with a struggling economy but productivity levels are also at an all-time low and have dropped every year since the recession began in 2008.
These worrying statistics become even more concerning when compared to the previous recessions of 1973, 1980 and 1990, where productivity rose after a few quarters fuelling recovery, so the productivity crisis is unprecedented in recent history and, it would appear, a bafflement to analysts and government alike.
So what is causing this productivity puzzle?
Many Think Tanks and government funded agencies are investigating, but it is proving difficult to find the one key issue; instead, it would appear to be a combination of the following:
Holding on to labour – companies are holding on to workers in order to maintain their organisational skill level
Companies seeking new routes to growth – new markets both domestic and abroad, which often require an increase manpower
Recruitment – research by Regus in 2011 showed an increase in recruitment of Sales, Customer Service and Marketing, as companies hope these departments will drive revenues.
How can we solve the puzzle?
If labour hording, recruiting customer-facing staff and seeking new markets are not going to solve the puzzle, what can companies do? Analysts are encouraging companies to focus on improving the direct management of customer-facing employees’ time to boost individual productivity and the introduction of CRM systems is a way for companies to achieve this strategy.
Is CRM the solution?
CRM solutions are proven to improve productivity by bringing together all the information on customers and prospects held by a company. Such centralisation of data makes it easy for companies to keep accurate and up-to-date information, weed out inefficiencies in finding and utilising information, eliminate duplication of work, reduce the time spent on administrative tasks and most importantly, provide employees immediate access to customer data while executing their jobs. A 2012 Nucleus surveyed 223 CRM decision makers and found an average productivity gain of 14.6%.
How CRM makes people more productive
Sales benefit from pipeline management, contact organisation, order management, lead tracking, report generating and sales forecasting can all be streamlined by the automation a CRM system provides.
A CRM system that makes it easy for service representatives to view all the information relating to a particular customer enables them to optimise customer satisfaction and boost loyalty.
Marketing can identify existing customers likely to buy a new product and when, based on their purchase history – then send automated emails, with messages triggered by purchases, seasonal offers, even renewal notices to generate new business opportunities.
For senior managers, CRM offers the ability to view customised dashboards that use customer data and other business information to provide real time report, supporting strategic development and the identification of new business opportunities.