Planning key to good CRM strategy: report

Lack of planning and old-school business culture are among the root causes of failed customer relationship management (CRM) implementations, according to the Customer Relationship Management Association of Canada (CRMA Canada).

The Toronto-based industry group recently announced the results of the its first annual benchmark study of CRM software rollouts.

The report, The CRMA Canada Industry Report Card 2002, surveyed Canadian companies within the retail, telecommunications and financial verticals, looking at how each vertical experienced CRM implementations.

Each of them shared common concerns, according to CRMA, foremost among them the difficulty of planning at an enterprise level, and the challenge of moving away from a product-push culture to a collaborative-enterprise view focused squarely on the customer.

The findings point to the lack of enterprise-level planning and the difficulties in achieving the “customer-centric” culture shift required to achieve CRM benefits, CRMA said.

While recognizing the need for such a shift, respondents lacked a common approach to achieving it, and often failed to recognize that it requires new disciplines, approaches and skills not always readily available, CRMA said.

Laura Pollard, president of CRMA, said organizations need to take an open look at CRM initiatives. “Organizations need to plan CRM initiatives on an enterprise level as a performance management capability, and understand what that entails before allocating resources to implementation,” Pollard said in a prepared statement.

“For CRM to succeed, it is critical that they understand how the initiatives will meet customer needs and return profits to serve the entire business, not just specific departmental or line-of-business units.”

Jacob Abramowicz, senior research analyst at Toronto-based E-Search Canada agrees.

The “customer-centric” value proposition of CRM must first be founded on an “employee-centric” approach – the internal efficiencies are just as important as those that are customer-facing, Abramowicz said.

Microsoft Canada Inc. announced in August that it was teaming with CRMA to undertake the study.