CRM failures, pre-empting them and making CRM work – Part Two

Part Two – Avoiding avoidable CRM failures

The internet is chock-full of lists of reasons for the failures of CRM.  We have honed these down to around 10 main ones (and we may find more as we go along), which we will examine in a series of blogs to see how significant they are, how we can avoid them and how we can secure the goal of making CRM a success. 

Do we put our customers centre-stage? Do we look at our business through their eyes? Do we give them sufficient respect and consideration? 

Such questions, despite collectively addressing the potential risks of not looking at the CRM project with the customer in mind, do not rank high in the list of failure reasons.  Perhaps this is because they feature all too infrequently as part of the overall business plan.  It would therefore be revealing to find out how many companies consider the customer perspective when developing their CRM strategy. 

Many companies address CRM as a business tool, i.e. to grow the business, to keep existing customers happy and to recruit more of them. Perhaps the time has come for a re-think, to instead use customers’ needs as the primary driver of our CRM implementations. If their needs were listed and ranked in order of importance, would this not be a great starting point for establishing our objectives, designs and functional specs?  After all, there is a strong case for viewing business growth and profits as natural by-products of getting the product right, treating the customer as king and respecting the fact that they are the ultimate expert on their own businesses and commercial needs.

Turning things on their head

So we need to turn things on their head and replace our opening question “What does our business need in terms of CRM” with “What do our customers need from us in terms of CRM?” This might come across as a minor point, or as merely a different way of saying the same thing, but if each element of the CRM implementation were subject to both “How does this benefit the business”? and “How does this benefit my customer?” then it follows that the end-result will turn out to be a much better solution.

And we need to be 100% sure we get this right, recognising that we might also be failing to deliver certain things because we are not yet aware of them. We cannot, of course, know what we don’t know; but it would be a wise move to try to find out. We should be assembling a cross-section of business needs to reflect the differences in business size. 

The customer is the expert?

Then there is the question of post-implementation feedback. It is not unusual for the results of customer satisfaction surveys to be in line with your expectations of most things you do. You will know what is good about what you offer your customers and you will know where you need to improve. But there is invariably at least one thing, sometimes more than one, that you might simply not have spotted from the customer angle and which you have not taken on board to influence what you do and how.  Many businesses use a business coach, mentor, advisory board, or some other vehicle, to help them analyse their business objectively.  However, it would be folly not to recognise that customers are themselves also real experts, able to offer invaluable insights into what you do; and they are an extremely cost-effective route to acquiring that knowledge.

So, in terms of CRM shortcomings, after identifying what they might be and converting them into success factors for your CRM, it might be worth putting a tick-box next to your list of requirements and objectives to confirm that your service “Does great things for my customer and from my customer’s point of view”.

The customer as part of the team

Customer-centric’, ‘positive customer experience’ etc are mantras we hear repeatedly. They should ideally be part and parcel of our CRM world. But are we not guilty of neglect?  Perhaps it’s time being customer-centric became a mandatory driver at the outset of the CRM process, not just its outcome.

Next Steps

Our research into what causes CRM failures helps our customers become successful now and in the future with CRM.

If you would like to know more, have a new project, or an existing installation which needs attention to get you on track, you can contact us at:   

Tel: 01992 661 244 



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