"Is CRM Technology a Legacy or Innovative Investment?" is a controversial question and topic and especially for those that have invested significantly into customer relationship management (CRM) technology over the last decade to help automate many of the functions in their marketing, sales and service departments. As well many people have invested their career into the mission of CRM. But important enough is whether you feel like you are doing a better job in supporting your customers and if your departments are working together in that unified mission. Do you believe that you have the processes and information supported by your technology to support your efforts over the next five years?
Many organizations are looking at the results from their customer satisfaction surveys and find that many businesses do not have efficient processes that unify the customer requests across departments until resolution let alone help measure and improve customer experience as I pointed out over a year ago. Many organizations have realized that issues with their customer-centric processes and applications do not get resolved as they are not electronically routed to management for prioritization and review as I pointed out in my customer experience with United Airlines. There are series of issues from policies to how the applications that your sales and service team use to interface to customers and the ones used by customers themselves are operating. As well most organizations do not have the customer information and analytics across text and voice channels to determine where to best focus their efforts let alone good customer metrics. Understanding customer interactions should be part of the foundation of CRM to maximize the business potential of your organization. Does your existing CRM investments work well for you and if you replace them will they just be a legacy investment?
A lot has been accomplished with CRM in the last decade with web technology and even the use of software-as-a-service with providers like salesforce.com who markets themselves as a CRM provider and I have written help in many areas but have forgot others. CRM solution providers generally speaking do provide simpler applications to keep track of or record activities and can help but is only component of what you will really need. But does CRM help you interact with your customers and can it do any more to drive efficiency into cross-departmental processes or help better align activities to specific goals? Has it advanced in supporting true workflow and process support that is desperately needed? I have not seen a lot of this compared to just adding features and other capabilities. I also pointed out that your sales force automation (SFA) investment might be just like ERP but really should not be combined with your CRM investments as the needs of sales is not the same as truly managing customer relationships. And clearly CRM does not include the necessary customer experience management technologies.
These are important issues to discuss as organizations need to decide if they change or upgrade their existing CRM investments and weigh where your valuable technology budget is utilized whether they are capital expenditures from installing in your organization to recurring operational expense that you subscribe and purchase as part of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) and cloud computing approach. Many organizations are looking at upgrades or switching CRM vendors to work on reducing the keeping the lights on (KTLO) technology budget since many of the on-premise installations of CRM have created significant maintenance and resource costs for organizations. At the same time new investments into sales performance management, multi-channel and self-service contact centers and even new marketing automation investments are also needing to be addressed and are not part of the CRM technologies and application suites of today.
For your own prioritization and allocation of your budget you will need to determine if CRM technology is a legacy or innovative investment. Doing so will help balance your scarce technology budget and set priorities on how you enable your organization to truly manage customer relationships in what I customer performance management and how you let your customers manage their relationship with you.