CRM is about Strategy, not Technology

Technology has taken its toll on society as a whole, we rely heavily on it in order to function. Between Facebook, Twitter and Smart Phones how often have you sat down with someone to have a real conversation? Technology has fueled impersonal communication to epic proportions. Most of us no longer even have a regular telephone for day-to-day conversations with family and friends. The overuse of technology has also affected customer relationship management, almost everything is automated and sterile.

Remove 'management' from the term and you are simply left with “Customer Relations”. Our business is relationships. Not just with our customers, but, with our sales team, our management and even the guys down in the mail room. Customer Relationship Management can certainly benefit from technology, but the CRM strategy is to use it for what it’s meant for: optimization. The technology available for CRM solutions streamlines the process, although, you still need to know how to handle people.

Effective Relationship Management
There is a concept presented where you do away with the whole sterile idea of Customer Relationship Management and make it Effective Relationship Management instead. This is a key strategy where the software aids you in the management aspect, but, you as a person make the entire thing effective. Using e-mail, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts are all ways that you can be effective at managing relationships. With this in mind none can be considered CRM, they are unique, we all use more than one and we couldn’t live without them.

CRM Strategy
Customer Relationship Management is started by the business itself and not one single person. The business has a singular purpose when it does this and it is to be consistent across board. Communication and interaction has to all be on the same level. Knowing and understanding the customer and their history aid in this. Once you define all of the variables you can then set out your goals such as increased sales, getting positive feedback and increasing leads.

Three Step Strategy Process
Since we are talking about CRM strategy and not technology, we need to discuss the three ways how to properly initiate the strategy. It is much simpler than it seems.
  • Determine the destination: Anything you do needs a destination and CRM is no different. Look at what CRM is and isn’t and what it means to you and your business. From that you can discern where you want your CRM to go. This can be anything from increased sales to doubling leads to having a lower escalation of issues. 
  • Status of the current CRM: Look at all of your past initiatives with CRM and analyze the failures as well as the successes. Make sure to look deeper to determine that those involved in the CRM program were pulling their weight. It is very important to have motivated individuals. Once you, and you alone, determine what went right or wrong you can then implement changes to improve and to meet your destination. 
  • Map it out: Once you know where you want to go and you know what to change or keep you can then create steps to get there. Create a list of things to do with milestone marks to getting them finished. This is your map to the promised land of perfect CRM solution.
Implementing Technology in your Strategy
Technology should never be the be all and end all of CRM. It’s an enabler as it enables you to do things quickly, efficiently and be organized doing it. CRM software takes away a lot of the stress that sales and customer service reps/ managers see on a daily basis.
  • Single application: Choose a CRM product that puts everything together in one location so that your e-mail, mobile apps and other tools are always available. 
  • Effective training: Never roll out the software without having everyone properly trained 
  • Optimization: Use a software product that has what you need and not what you think you need. Too many features weigh down the program and make it less effective as you try to implement all of them. 
  • Well defined strategy: Identify the best suited strategy and stick with it. Software is constantly being updated, revitalized and changed but a solid program never gets outdated. 
  • Multi-departmental implementation: Make it available to everyone who needs it. Many companies will announce the software and everyone will be excited. Then for whatever reason, it is passed out to a few divisions. Old software won’t talk well with new software. Everyone needs to be on the same playing field and at the same time.
Get started
You need to start small while thinking grand and also move quickly. Easier said than done, but, it can be done and will have far reaching benefits. Discovering the bigger picture, find critical things that need to be done and then break it down each to logical parts. Take out the stuff you don’t need and then focus on the stuff you do need. You will be implementing a high impact CRM solution quickly and effectively. Always keep your ultimate goal in mind while doing this and always allow your CRM solution to grow with the business.