Challenges for a Multi-Country CRM Implementation: 9 Ways to Ensure Success

A 360 degree view of customers is as crucial in local scenarios as in the national and international scene. With CRM concepts ramifying worldwide, coalescing offices scattered across the globe becomes important, and organizations must provide client-facing employees with a holistic customer view at all times.

With old CRM software - quotas, sales forecasts, dashboards, etc. are not easily transitioned across borders. Regional and global sales personnel are forced to manually compute how local-currency transactions pan out and compare against metrics at a higher corporate level. To avoid these hindrances, businesses should incorporate global CRM expansion in their strategies - it will empower them to provide superior assistance to customers, ease out complexity and multiplicity of operations, and streamline internal processes effectively.

March towards a triumphant global solution: Challenges
Numerous challenges arise while choosing and executing a tenable global solution and its consequent roll-out. First is to manage customer information spread across different repositories around the world. Often there is uncertainty about how to handle data gaps and multiplicity in information from a single client. Therefore, right at the start, it is imperative for organizations to define an unambiguous procedure concerning management of scattered customer data.

Up next are challenges in the area of processes. Organizations should know which processes are most pertinent and also those which differentiate them from competitors, then work towards institutionalizing these processes globally. Standard processes should replace local practices.

A customer-centric philosophy is critical. Efforts must flow from top to bottom – the CEO and other top officials should go all out in epitomizing global and cultural transitions in order to ensure success.

Global CRM implementation has inherent challenges like fluctuating variables, distinctive needs and seemingly indomitable obstacles.
  • In many cases, compared to their domestic counterparts, subsidiaries at international levels employ different processes and data formats. 
  • All CRM products do not necessarily support a multitude of languages, raising difficulties.
  • Since organizations gathering customer information across the world have to encounter various privacy regulations, security issues are usually a concern. 
  • Global CRM is also thought about in terms of software, raising questions about applications supporting internalization and displaying characteristics like UI translations, pliable currency tables, on-demand workflow, etc.
Experts say that organizations excogitating global CRM should initially keep their focus on specific, workable issues like SFA. If companies try to globalize all at one go, it is likely they will end up in a CRM morass.

E. Kolosky, a Gartner analyst, opines that comprehensive Cloud CRM Softwares has not been managed successfully and holistically by any global company and it will be a while before that happens.

En route to success
Global CRM requires clear objectives, data cleansing and re-engineering. Although there is no single correct archetype that applies universally, there are guidelines which organizations can follow to ratify an efficacious global CRM strategy.

1. Comprehensive Repository
A repository of customer information incorporating data of the entire organization and all its locations should be created. Incomplete, backdated data, and customer information that is too scattered, are all roadblocks. A system should be built to allow real time data access. 

2. Localize
Even with global expansions, most customers need to be served locally. Hence, Cloud CRM systems’ mid-point contact software must be in local language for customers and employees, and at the same time adhere to local security and privacy laws, management of currency related issues, and productive integration of local business processes.

3. Phased implementation
Compared to the impracticalities of implementing a global CRM solution at one go, phased implementation is a better approach. This is not only beneficial from the cost viewpoint but also ensures that every successive implementation is smoother. Progress should be monitored and corrective steps taken as and where necessary.

4. Single point testing
MNCs must begin with identifying their most successful and revenue generating country. Next, define a specific business process for that country/channel, which can be applied without any geographical constraints. A test program to start the CRM transformation can be implemented, and this pilot should ideally beget speedy ROI. The advantage is that risks involved in simultaneous implementation across all countries are eliminated, and things learnt in the test smarten up the organization when implementation goes global.

5. Collaborating with all stakeholders
Apart from external consultants and integrators, organizations should involve existing business partners. This collaboration benefits everyone, because business and channel partners offer valuable inputs from their expertise area and help acquire buy-in for new technologies and processes.

However, it would be necessary for partners to be given access to information which sales teams have. Even though this may raise eyebrows, it is essential for partners to feel motivated and put in best quality data from the customers’ side to the company’s client database.

6. Integration
Effective cross-channel integration helps all departments to be actively involved in sales and service through a single customer view, while enabling them to work better towards customer retention. However, this will backfire if channels function in silos. Integration between front office and back office systems is also a must.

7. User coaching
Industry watchers say that marketing, sales, and customer service personnel, all resist change. Hence, they should be made an integral part of the entire process and be given all necessary tools and information, in-depth training and great incentives. This will motivate them and enable them to understand technologies better. Managers should be trained too.

8. Myriad touch points
Customers are gaining technological exposure and wish to interact with businesses through online chats, e-mail, instant messaging, etc., making it important to offer a plethora of touch points to cater to the heterogeneous group of customers spread across the globe.

9. Selecting the right vendor partner
Success in global CRM implementation starts with selecting the right vendor.
  • Flexibility – Vendors must comprehend economic, technical and geo-political dynamism. This will ensure long term success and viability. Effective integration across product lines is a necessity. Some vendors depend upon inorganic growth as a means to cushion product competence. Solutions must possess ease in adaptability, while also being able to identify, engineer and operationalize fresh cross-channel integration requirements, data sources and varied applications.
  • Focus To reduce the tediousness of application customization, it is crucial to focus on vendor expertise in particular domains, in conjunction with industry-specific processes. A sure shot path to success is to possess vertical dexterity and intelligently invest in internal process experts.
  • All about geography - Organizations expanding to international markets have to carefully pick vendors with widespread experience in global end users. They must also be able to take care of business relationships centrally and at the same time effectively deliver local support.
  • Apportioned ticket response - It is important to provide support towards discordant ticket assignments, bearing in mind geographic variances and simultaneously offering customer visibility. This should be parallel with real time computation of operational performance.
A final word..
Real-time global CRM management enhances selling worldwide, and global visibility and support management gives customer satisfaction a whole new dimension. Standardizing and automating core functions of the Cloud CRM Software help free up various resources and those activities which differentiate organizations can be focused on.

In the past, there was a segmented approach without much attention given to having an integrated view of customer activities at global levels. However, with a global CRM solution in place, investments will pay off in all directions. A successful global CRM strategy encompasses people, processes, data, software, systems and cultures. Sharp focus, correct business practices and the right software can make global CRM implementation a roaring success.

With all the above pointers borne in mind, expansion and up-gradation of CRM solutions to the international level can be truly hassle free.

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