Have you heard of the CRM death spiral? If not, maybe you’ve experienced it. Getting started with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can be a tricky endeavor. If you don’t start down the right path, you’re at risk of all of your hard work spiraling out of control and ending up with a CRM system that contains unreliable and unusable data. Headaches. Scattered data. Lost efforts. No one wins.
While the overarching idea for getting started the right way is usually around defining your vision and processes for your business, we gleaned some specific tips from DPT’s recent CRM event and compiled them into the simple checklist below. Download a printable version of the checklist.
Following a few simple guidelines will help you start off your CRM efforts in the right direction. Starting with a strategy first will ultimately help you understand your goals, and highlight both problems and opportunities for success.
Somehow this quote from Mary Shelley seems appropriate – for both the topic of this blog entry and for the time of year. I especially like this quote because it is just as true now in our age of technology as it was in 1818 when Shelley wrote her famous novel, Frankenstein. Whether the change is a positive change, such as an exciting new job or a negative change, such as losing a job, change is unsettling to us humans. This is human nature. In the field of technology, there has been a tremendous amount of human suffering inflicted as a result poorly managed change.
Whatever is driving your technology change – it may be anything from a strategic business need for new technological functionality to a long-overdue software upgrade – change is inevitable and managing the human side of change is of paramount importance to the success of your project and your organization. A great idea poorly executed from a human resource point-of-view is doomed for failure if your people don’t understand their role, don’t understand their processes or see it only as something to learn instead of a tool to help them. If you’ve read Shelley’s novel – or even if you’ve only seen Mel Brooks’ movie, Young Frankenstein – you see the emotional pain of the monster as he struggles to understand the world and how he fits in this world where there is nobody else like him. Dr. Frankenstein created him and reveled in his technical success (at least initially) but hadn’t considered his work from the monster’s point of view.
We often get wrapped up in planning for technological change. We get excited about the technical potential but often we lose sight of the people for whom this change is intended to help! We lose sight of their perspective. The technology is the easy part! Guiding and helping humans through change is key and is too often forgotten or not prioritized. And when project schedules slip and budgets get tight, this aspect is often dropped as a “nice to have”.
But think about it - your people are your greatest assets. You have invested in finding them, hiring them, developing them, training them in the intricacies of your business model. They are the face of your company, greeting your customers with a smile and good service. They make decisions that only humans can make. And when the frustration levels get high as a result of poorly managed change, they may make the decision to look elsewhere for a better work environment. If I step away from my human viewpoint and look at it from a pure cost perspective, employee turnover is costly in terms of the loss of an asset as well as the cost of others having to temporarily pick up extra work while also possibly grieving the loss of that day-to-day interaction with a co-worker who became a friend to them but left your company.
What can you do? As you prepare project plans, make sure they include plans to manage the human side of change. Key categories you should address:
Don’t turn your change into a nightmare for your employees. Don’t turn your tool into a monster. Manage the change and reduce the pain experienced by the people in your organization.
Recommended resources for learning more about managing the human side of change:
While hot Customer Relationship Management (CRM) trends such as mobile and social CRM get all the press, we recently hosted a local CRM executive breakfast event and it was clear from both the speakers and audience that a focus on improving your business processes before updating or implementing new technology leads to greater success.
What are the tangible results that will make the greatest impact in your business? When moving forward with your CRM projects, don’t forget about practical process improvements and their impact on streamlining your business – and ultimately, improving your bottom line.
Thank you to everyone who attended the event we hosted last week, The CRM "Feud"! We recieved great feedback on the new gameshow style of the event, and even had a few "special guests" from Paws With A Cause.
Thank you again for our speakers from National Heritage Academies, Midstate Security, Paws With A Cause, and Great Lakes Health Connect! In the coming months, we'll be sharing the content, stories, and tips from the speakers. Stay tuned!
This year our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) event topic, “The CRM Feud,” came from feedback at previous events, as well as DPT client observations. That feedback showcased the internal struggle between the bombardment of new CRM trends and functionality, versus the need to continue with more fundamental process and internal efficiencies. This struggle highlights the need to include both short term wins and long term plans and roadmaps for effective CRM strategy.
In a nutshell, while new trends and technology are often what initially attract people to CRM, the practical improvements are what sell it to the organization to move forward. Both are necessary, but each type of improvement caters to a different set of stakeholders.
A couple of examples are in order. One of the hottest current trends is implementing social CRM because prospects and customers are now interacting with companies in more channels than ever before through texting, blogs, and social media. The need to capture those conversations and proactively engage in them is within the realm of CRM functionality, however, the need to have a solid core CRM strategy and solution prior to attempting to manage all of the social CRM channels is critical. You need the car chassis and frame before adding on the slick paint job and wide tires. Additionally, the rate of growth of using the other social communication channels is tremendous and companies need to be able to handle those within the same CRM approach and solution.
On the flip side, the practical process and service improvements gained through CRM are key to getting user buy-in as well as time savings for team members to drive higher value add activities such as attracting and retaining new customers. For instance, reducing a sales person’s need to fill out reports and spreadsheets or attend weekly sales meetings can be huge in terms of time savings to focus more time on prospecting and selling. Eliminating “spreadsheet”-based information silos regarding key customer information reduces the time needed to search for and access the information, as well as improves the confidence that the information is correct by creating a single “source of truth.”
For clarity, we’re not advocating a choice for one (embrace trends) or the other (implement process improvements) – you need both. It’s more of an issue of timing, planning, company culture, work sequencing, and laying out a vision and roadmap to reach your goals.
Want to learn more about how other organizations deal with the struggle? Come to The CRM “Feud” on October 15. Learn from National Heritage Academies, Paws With A Cause, and Great Lakes Health Connect as they share their successes and struggles on their CRM journey.
In our previous we outlined four areas in which a nonprofit can benefit by leveraging for-profit business strategies and tactics. One of those areas is specific to honing your mission and adjusting your marketing strategies to align with new social enterprise models.
With the advent of benefit corporations that are for-profit but include a positive impact on society, and the growth of philanthropic foundations funded by for profit companies, the lines between nonprofit and for-profit entities are continuing to blur. Nonprofits have more competition than they’ve ever had and it’s not just other nonprofits.
You’ve probably seen examples of nonprofits expanding their mission across other business ventures – whether through opening a thrift shop, or being set up as a division of a for-profit corporate umbrella (Amway, Kellogg, and Wege Foundations among others). Some nonprofits are even beginning to invest like venture capitalists – funding startups and publicly traded companies in an effort to bring a life-changing product to market faster. [For more information, please see Fortune Magazine: "Charities Are Making Big Money by Acting Like VCs"]
Another example of new competition is for-profit companies becoming B Corps (Benefit Corporations). The benefits of becoming a B Corp are around sustainability. They are certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency [www.bcorporation.net]. Using their prowess in manufacturing and industry, these corporations are working to solve social problems, if not necessarily “missions.” While missions serve individual people, social responsibility and sustainability are becoming part of the nonprofit spectrum while having a hand in the for-profit world because of the inherent benefits of creating more sustainable businesses.
For most nonprofits, it’s important to stay focused on your mission and deliver exceptional and efficient services. For-profits can leverage their skills and abilities and apply them to sustainable and social objectives, but nonprofits need to learn from and adopt those same for-profit skills to hone their mission, gain efficiencies, and focus on the right metrics and benchmarks.
For example, more nonprofits should leverage sales and pipeline management techniques to drive their development efforts. This could include standardized donation processes, donor nurture campaigns, discipline around project execution, and managing and monitoring closing ratios. Another good example is implementing customer service best practices such as leveraging internal knowledge bases, utilizing voice of the customer surveys, and effectively measuring service delivery in order to report on directed donations.
“I was introduced to DPT when I was working at GreenStone FCS. During that time I was a client of DPT, and spent a lot of time working one-on-one with their consultants. They stood out to me because they weren’t just warm bodies filling a seat - they took the time to understand what we were trying to accomplish, and put significant effort into making sure we were on track. They were an exceptional team, and I thought to myself at that time that I someday I would like to work with them.
“I joined the DPT team earlier this year as Senior Consultant working on data integration and custom application development and design for the CRM practice. My diverse background in insurance, finance, and biomedical research has afforded me the skills and expertise to be able to do software design on large projects. I especially enjoy the challenge of seeing the big picture of a project, then getting into the trenches to tackle each complex piece.
“I currently live in Lake Odessa with my wife of three years, Linda, and our chocolate lab named Caesar.”