Employee involvement in CRM boosts success rates

Employees, not just customers have to reap the benefits from customer relationship management (CRM) software if its adoption is going to be successful, according to a study by IBM Global Services.

This means aligning CRM objectives with employee objectives, said Ginni M. Rometty, managing partner, IBM business consulting service at IBM Global Services. CRM software should make it easier for a worker to do their job and help them produce better results. If this is accomplished, companies can have about a 60 per cent better chance at deriving benefits from CRM, she said.

Additionally, because employees have often been neglected during CRM implementations, many of these firms are not getting the business results expected from these technology investments. That’s why it is important that employees receive thorough training, because another reason why some CRM initiatives don’t work is because no one uses it. In fact the study showed that 75 per cent of companies were not taking full advantage of their CRM capabilities.

IBM Global Service’s Institute for Business Value conducted an online study about how well CRM applications have been serving the enterprise that polled 373 people worldwide responsible for making CRM decisions. Only 15 per cent were fully satisfied with their CRM deployments while 85 per cent were looking for ways to improve their CRM strategy.

But the good news is that it’s easy for companies to improve their CRM success, Rometty said. By following some simple rules of thumb companies can improve their likelihood of success by 55 to 65 per cent, she explained.

Along with the first rule of thumb of aligning CRM objectives with employee objectives, most of the elements that can predict and drive success involve people, Rometty said.

A second rule of thumb is ensuring that CRM is a corporate objective, not an initiation from a specific department such as marketing or sales. Rometty said that when corporate owns CRM, companies can achieve success rates of between 25 and 60 per cent.

And a third rule of thumb involves getting the higher-ups in on the project. The study showed that in 35 per cent of companies senior management actually hindered CRM success because they did not view it as crucial.

One company looking to grow its revenue through CRM is SaskTel, based in Regina. S. Claire Lawrence, senior business planner for SaskTel, said SaskTel has been using Siebel Systems Inc.’s Sales Force Automation Suite for about a year now. It also plans to move CRM into the call centre.

Sales Force Automation lets its salespeople better manage their enterprise clients while eService will help SaskTel drive more revenue from its Web site.

“For most telcos, particularly in the U.S., they’re very siloed,” Lawrence said, meaning that telcos will sell wireless plans, wireless phones, local calling and Internet separately. Before eService, a customer couldn’t buy a cell phone and a cell phone plan together; they had to be purchased separately, she said.

Lawrence said CRM is part of the company’s corporate vision and overall strategy.

SaskTel’s Web site strategy will also help its call centre agents because they will be better able to order services for customers — especially those who don’t have Internet access — over its Web site, Lawrence said. For example, if a customer calls in and wants a new cell phone and cell phone plan, the call centre agent can order both with one transaction compared with two, making the call centre agent’s job easier.

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