8 Ways Organisational Collaboration Critically Impacts CRM Success

Vision is the starting point of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution, Strategy sets it into motion, but, it is Organisational Collaboration that takes it to the next level - the pinnacle of success. In order to ensure that a CRM solution is truly rewarding, organisations must be in favour of and committed to remodelling of organisational behaviour and culture while supporting modernity in overall organisational collaborations.

The guarantor to CRM victory is the seamless alignment of resources to CRM vision, strategy and goal, supported by necessary internal changes – and this is exactly what appropriate organisational collaboration effectuates. CRM solutions are not department-specific; they are actualised by meaningful inter-departmental and lines of business (LOBs) collaborations and the information technology (IT) cluster of the organisation. Further, such collaboration must be steered by people and braced by process modifications.

Amendments to organisational culture include making changes to existing processes, structures, and metrics on the company side; and adjusting skills, learning, training, incentives, and compensation on the people side.

Why the emphasis on collaboration?
Collaboratively enhancing customer experience
CRM is an inherently cross-functional subject impacting the key proficiencies of an organisation’s customer interactions, which is primarily why its success is dictated by high levels of effective organisational collaboration and change management. It gives businesses a face lift and at the same time holds the capacity to transform every facet of a business organisation.

Also, compared to other organisational strategies and programs, CRM projects involve a greater degree of complexity. These projects specifically require every single department to work both in isolation as well as unity, so that a stalwart CRM approach can be formulated, monitored, fine-tuned and maintained.

Where organisations often go wrong…
Several business enterprises erroneously believe that deploying a CRM solution automatically translates to becoming customer-centric. As a consequence, the essential elements of processes and personnel are either overlooked or under-financed. The power of a CRM system is solely reliant upon the efficiencies of organisational processes and collaborative decorum of end users. If these two aspects are not balanced and enhanced on internal levels, then the solution will be reflective of organisational disharmony and inefficiencies.
Only a handful of businesses possess the wisdom of giving weightage to motivation of all the LOBs and personnel (including IT) in having a futuristic vision that extends beyond the CRM roll out. 

It is crucial that all enterprises applying CRM solutions adopt a panoptic perspective, and closely scrutinise how structures and resources (both financial and non-financial) can be cross-functionally aligned to underpin the CRM solution and happenings.

Regardless of whether a CRM solution is applied to a particular department or the entire organisation, certain practices can bring value to the organisation by enhancing the instrumentality of organisational collaboration in speeding up CRM success. Here’s a look -

1. Create a flawless Customer Experience
It is very important that all areas/ departments that are directly and indirectly associated with and impact customer experiences are carefully aligned not only with the objectives of the whole CRM programme, but also with the action plan that is devised to ameliorate customer experiences.

This calls for a more enlightened view of the fact that customer relationship management is more than just being kind and efficient with customers - it is about understanding that sales and customer service teams should have parallel views about the various aspects of serving customers in the most fruitful manner. 

2. Inculcate a customer-centric culture throughout the organisation
Complete awareness about the various customer segments, along with the aspirations, intentions and expectations of each customer segment is something that organisations must have in totality. This is because in correspondence to the objectives of each customer category, there is a parallel touch point for each of the company’s departments. The need for organisational collaboration must be clarified throughout the organisation, along with providing an in-depth understanding of how such collaborative initiatives will necessitate changes in regular operations and also call for new leadership, management and organisational processes.

The first step is the identification of all customer-facing roles and processes. Following which, true customer-centricity needs to be effectuated by aligning all those processes, roles, functions and employees with the identified customer objectives. Then, appropriate metrics should be assigned across departments to ascertain the highest level of cross departmental co-operation. After customer-centricity and cross departmental collaboration is imbibed throughout the enterprise, it must be ascertained that the supporting organisational collaboration is simultaneously applied.

3. Mandate creation of customer touch points among work force
Very often, it so happens that the workforce within organisations become extremely involved with their internal tasks and projects due to which they seldom have any substantial contact with customers. As a result of this, their understanding about customer experience remains cloudy. Taking initiatives like role play among employees to pose as customers, or conveying customer engagement metrics, or even making it mandatory for all the workforce to necessarily have at least some kind of primary or secondary customer touch point; have all proved beneficial in creating awareness among a workforce towards the realities of being on the customer side, and also about the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation from a customer's perspective. Such initiatives naturally enable employees to completely understand and empathise with their customers.

4. Broaden the conventional concept of incentives 
It is a known fact that compensation plans and incentives motivate personnel and drive desirable behaviour. Sometimes however, this in itself becomes a reason why departments or channels breed rivalry, or focuses become short-term, or hard work outweighs smart work. To avoid such situations, it is imperative that incentive/compensation schemes are regularly reviewed and arrayed with organisational objectives and metrics so that cross-functional collaboration is strengthened. At the same time, there must also be an alignment with external objectives, so that superiority in rendering the highest levels of customer value can be achieved. Performance reviews and goals should include inter-departmental objectives, which boils down to the fact that success should ideally be measured against multi-point accomplishments and not be dependent on just one particular department.

5. Evaluate, emphasize and encourage collaboration in the true sense 
When adapting to any kind of change, there is often a tendency among organisations to hurry towards restructuring and regrouping. This rushed approach is often wrong. Merely restructuring and regrouping work personnel into new or different teams does not in any way guarantee customer-centricity. It should be remembered that before making physical alternations to the company’s structures and systems, a collaborative culture should be nurtured by first improvising and altering the related technologies and tools. Leaders and senior executives must set an example by conveying how cross-departmental collaborative initiatives adopted by them, and others connected with the organisation have generated desirable business results.

Further, collaborative activities such as cross training, group events, seminars, cross-team activities etc. must be encouraged and applauded, as this will inspire workforce to think beyond just their own teams and departments. Fresh and innovative collaborative ideas should be acknowledged and rewarded. Leaders of CRM and top management in an organisation must also support social networking channels as they are a new facet of collaborating. Cascading from top to bottom, a motivating tone for collaboration in every form should be voiced.

6. Administer expectations, secure support
Effective communication of the benefits and objectives of a CRM solution to everyone in the organisation is an absolute must. Only when the goals are clear at all levels, the executives and other employees can understand how the CRM solution will aid in driving value and contributing to ROI. When explaining about the solution to employees, top management must also elaborate and justify the investments in the CRM solution with complete conviction.

The entire CRM solution and strategy should be clearly communicated – both internally with work force, and externally with clientele. Expectation management translates to assuring definite and attainable goals within reasonable time frames. End users as well as those likely to be affected in early stages should be engaged in meaningful interactions to invite their feedback and ideas regarding the CRM activities. Of utmost importance is conveying to the employees how they stand to gain from the CRM solution in their own work, and how important it is in creating positive and tangible influences on their roles. This ensures support from all relevant stakeholder groups.

7. Pinpoint and upgrade change management spheres regularly
CRM success is largely dependent upon change management and related training – starting right from the beginning. Though this includes employee training, it extends beyond just that. It includes the alignment of stakeholder objectives with those of the organisation, and also the organisation’s capability to evaluate internal, external, regional and international process readiness in supporting a new technology and workflow. Everything and everyone who will be impacted by the launch of the CRM system should be completely aligned with the larger objectives.

Another dimension of change management involves segregation between those personnel who will support the change and those who will oppose it. This segregation is further bifurcated into activeness or passiveness in support or opposition.

All changes concerned with organisational culture, structure, technology and process; in conjunction with how each of them will impact the company as the whole, are critical yardsticks in determining how viable the CRM solution is, and how well prepared the organisation is towards adopting it. 

It is obligatory to successfully manage all changes from the communications and knowledge transmission point of view, so that personnel across all verticals adeptly embrace the changes.

8. Oversee, scrutinise and elevate workforce satisfaction levels
Inter-relationships between customer loyalty and retention, and employee satisfaction levels have been validated. By improving workplaces and striving towards workforce motivation, productivity and satisfaction levels are improved, automatically lowering attrition. As a direct consequence, customer experiences are also positively influenced. Therefore, every organisation must make it an ingredient of their CRM program to continually scrutinise and augment satisfaction levels of their workforce.

An effective financial CRM solution is supported by impeccable organisational collaboration to reach its final destination. Careful analysis, administration and amendment of ongoing systems and structures along with ensuring alignment of organisational, employee and customer objectives with CRM goals will help attain success.