CRM: Beyond the software

I’m passionate about customer-relationship management (CRM); I love it. But though the software itself is important – it must be stable, easy to use, and loved by users – it’s not the CRM products themselves that I find the most fascinating. What’s more interesting to me is the customer journey across a business that they seek to map out.

Often, we see companies that simply decide to buy a CRM (because they think they should) and pass it on to the IT team for implementation. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), this usually ends in failure, because CRM is not an IT issue until much later in the piece.

It keeps coming back to customer-centricity

Instead, first and foremost, and we’ve talked about this a lot, CRM is about having your customer at the core of your business. It’s no longer about looking inwards as a company but instead about really looking at and understanding your customers – who they are and what their business and people issues are – and providing them with solutions.

Here at Squiz, we’re in a B2B business, so we talk to many stakeholders on the client side. And for each of them, we need to understand where they are in their journey, and we need to make sure we can help them.

Tackling your touchpoints

So yes, with CRM, you put the customer at the heart of everything. But more than that, if you want your CRM implementation to be successful, then it’s absolutely essential to work on your internal business processes.

Usually, this kicks off with an audit and, again, that all-important customer journey. You need to understand the full story the customer has with your business and, particularly, what makes this relationship successful for them. What are the main touchpoints – the moments of truth.

Once you have this journey map, it’s time to start working on each individual touchpoint. Who owns this touchpoint across the business? That touchpoint? What are the measures of success? What is the best experience for your customer at this point in the journey? What potential impact does it have on other touchpoints? That’s how you’ll pinpoint your business processes and highlight for other company departments and stakeholders why it’s important to know what happens at any given touchpoint. Repeat this exercise for every touchpoint and share the information.  

By going through this process, you gain a better understanding of what information you need to capture and measure to provide your customers with the best possible experience. You need this full view of your customers, so it has to be seamless and good, especially if you’re in a long-life cycle.

Another benefit? This introspective work will create more collaboration within your teams: identifying gaps, finding solutions, and understanding how to work better together.

Four steps towards success

So to recap, succeeding with CRM means basically following a four-pronged process:

  1. thoroughly reviewing your business processes
  2. identifying the gaps
  3. looking at the interactions you have with your customers
  4. understanding the data you need to capture and monitor throughout the customer journey to make your customers happy.

Doing this will form the basis for all of your business requirements and for your CRM implementation.

Where do you fall in your customers’ journey? What are you responsible for at your particular touchpoint? Please share your experiences and comments below.

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