Five reasons why CRM projects flop

Businesses employ CRM applications to improve efficiency between departments, leverage cross-sell and up-sell opportunities and increase customer satisfaction by providing convenient access to relevant customer data throughout customer-related processes. However, making CRM data and processes available throughout the enterprise is not easy.
In fact, analysts at Meta Group estimate that up to 75% of CRM implementations fail. Like most large and complex projects there are many challenges, including defining priorities for different departments and securely and reliably moving data across different technical environments, such as legacy systems, mobile apps, and public and private cloud architectures. If not well thought out, or implemented using the wrong tools, instead of providing the promised benefits, CRM projects can end up wasting company time and resources.Here are five reasons why CRM projects flop:Lack of a collaborative vision. Companies typically have a wealth of customer data stored in various information silos across the organisation, from accounts receivable, manufacturing, pre-sales, sales, customer support, and logistics. In addition, behavioural data, be it structured or unstructured, is housed within social media networks, e-commerce platforms, website analytics, and email and messaging apps. While some employees might have access and knowledge to some of the information, inter-departmental collaboration or information sharing is required to provide a holistic view of all relevant information. However, according to Altimeter’s 2014 State of Digital Transformation Report the majority of organisations find cross-departmental collaboration difficult as people are swamped with heavy workloads trying to keep up with day-to-day responsibilities. This means that organisations must orchestrate the collaboration automatically to ensure success. Companies need to consolidate the entire picture of the customer’s digital world, define what’s most important and make sure it can be actionable, by bringing it into workflows. Without a high level understanding of who needs what data, where and when, it’s almost impossible to provide users with the actionable real-time information they need to be more productive. Whether it’s one data source or several, lacking a big-picture view of the enterprise leads to further silos and missed opportunities.Ensure you have a big-picture view by mapping out the information flows that your enterprise needs in order to run its most common and critical processes, from CRM to ERP, call centre, e-commerce, and other enterprise systems to ensure a full and complete view of customer histories, orders, credit status, service issues, and more. Visualising these data flows allows users to contribute their intimate knowledge of bottlenecks and shows where integration can automate processes that are currently manual and laborious.
Not enough user involvement. The purpose of a CRM implementation is to improve business performance by enhancing customer experience and by improving user and business intelligence. In many CRM implementations, it’s assumed that implementing the CRM system with a few integrated processes is all that is needed. While management typically focuses on dashboards that provide the information it needs, as discussed above, the organisation needs a big-picture view in order to map out relevant business processes and workflows. Without user involvement the project will rarely live up to expectations because it will be based on a ‘best guess’ and not the true processes and workflows needed to make users more efficient and to provide them with a complete view of the customer. Moreover, as users are naturally resistant to change, it’s critical to get them engaged. What better way than to get their input and proving that their experience matters?The best approach to getting the desired user involvement is to appoint users champions in each department. The champions should have a deep understanding of departmental processes and system usage, understand the pains of the users they represent and be able to articulate potential concerns to management. Having multiple champions also mitigates risk should one of them leave during the process. Champions thus become a key conduit between management and users, with visibility of the big picture and strategy, and the input to highlight inefficient processes and problems. In addition, employee involvement can be encouraged by using an informal ‘water cooler’ approach in which users are invited to identify the most important data and processes that can help them provide the best service and work more efficiently. Getting employees involved early and often increases the chances for smooth adoption of the new CRM as a portal to the enterprise and helps optimise the business benefits.
Information is not ‘actionable’. While access to accurate up-to-date information is undeniably a critical requirement for any business, if the information is unable to be used, manipulated and acted upon then you’ve only provided a partial solution. Actionable information is fundamental to business success. If people can get real work done, it increases enthusiasm for the system, amplifying its impact on improving customer service and increasing productivity. Don’t forget to apply the ‘actionable principle’ to dashboards and reports as well. Make sure management and users have quick access to important information and key performance indicators, in a manner that can be easily understood and acted upon. Just like process flows need to be mapped out, action flows need to be as well; both need to be part of the big-picture view.
Lack of integration. While many integration tools can move data from one place to another, such as batch uploads to a data warehouse, CRM implementations require more than that. An integrated CRM should provide a single location to activate business processes from multiple channels including desktops and mobiles. For example, by integrating an enterprise social tool into your processes, users can follow objects and projects, and receive automatic notifications when these are modified. This type of connectivity requires far more than data integration, it requires process integration. Process-based integration allows you to follow the business logic that your users already use when updating information across systems, turning your existing ad-hoc and informal processes into automated, robust ones. This enables your CRM to become a central hub, boosting productivity and engagement by helping users work more efficiently and collaborate effectively.
Mobile is overlooked. Many implementations involve systems that have traditionally been used with desktops and laptops, so mobile sometimes becomes an afterthought. Think about which processes and functionalities are most important to your mobile employees. Location services can add a lot of value to your sales force. Your work-at-home Help Desk staff can benefit from context-based services, especially if using small mobile devices that limit the retrieval of information. By bringing relevant data and processes to the right people when and where they need it and making it actionable, your mobile CRM app increases operational efficiencies and improves productivity for customers, partners, and employees. In addition, by incorporating enterprise mobility, businesses can increase support and enthusiasm for your CRM implementation from all levels of management.While most CRM vendors offer mobile apps, these tend to be ‘vanilla’ and not appropriate for all users. Customers, partners, and presales people can all benefit from having access to integrated mobile apps, but they don’t all need the same process flows or access. Rather than trying to build one overarching mobile CRM app, it can be best to start with the vendor-provided app and use a smart mobile app development platform to create custom process-specific apps rapidly for different stakeholders as needed. A successful CRM implementation project depends on knowing how customer information can be leveraged to create business value and positive experiences for your customers and users. This requires that you start with a holistic view, but then focus on the most beneficial information and processes. You know you’ve built an effective CRM system when it becomes the first and last application checked by your users every day.
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