Given the industry sector in which I work no-one will be surprised that I get involved in many of the online and social network discussion forums about CRM. They can be great places to indulge in a bit of navel-gazing and to join in on general industry memes and themes. But there is one apparently perennial discussion stream that gets me sighing and my eyes-rolling and that is the “Is CRM Dead?” question.
It’s an obvious theological debate for the CRM industry to indulge in I guess and gives the repeat forum contributors a reason to justify their existence and perhaps their high CRM consultancy prices. I love a good dogmatic discussion of course; but I think that “CRM is Dead” ranks as one of the stalest of the zeitgeist fables circulating.
If you’re in business and you have customers then for you the act of managing the relationship you have with your customers could never be described as “Dead”. Okay, maybe I should have reworded the beginning of that sentence to be “If you’re in a successful business…” Because Customer Relationship Management is just a convenient label that gets applied to reality; that people buy from people. So it stands to reason that good business means giving yourself the best chance of being noticed by, and of impressing that person such that they trust you enough to give you some of their hard earned money in return for your product/service.
The truth is that for loads of businesses CRM is dead – but that’s because they didn’t figure out who their customers were and what the issues were that they could help resolve. Or, to put it another way, it was their business that died because they didn’t keep their CRM alive.
You’re Asking The Wrong Question…
I think that the better question to ask is this one – “Is my CRM Dead?” Now that’s a much more interesting and pertinent question and frankly one that will lead you to a valuable personal business insight and conclusion (not just a highfalutin philosophising for the sake of it).
The only thing that is going to be valuable for driving your business forward at the desired speed and in the desired direction is a CRM system that fits your processes, that flexes with your new initiatives and that allows you to spot the patterns and see the prompts that mean something to you. And in a lot of cases that means taking a good hard long look at the particular example of CRM system that you’re running and asking some tough questions about just how good a business-partner it is being for you. To paraphrase a quote from a recent Dun & Bradstreet publication – “[An outdated and unsuitable] CRM is like a pair of glasses with an out of date prescription”. A good simile well-made Messrs D&B!
And I want to be clear on this point – your CRM system doesn’t have to be a massive relational database with super slick user-interfaces and integration into real-time multiple data sources, with a price tag to match! It could be that your CRM is a spreadsheet or paper notebook. The point is that you should check carefully to make sure that your CRM system is still doing-the-do for you. Because CRM most certainly is not dead and indeed never will be. But individual approaches to CRM may be strangling the life force out of your own business. In which case it is definitely time to begin your crusade to get a new CRM system that will deliver – or get busy trying to prove that Elvis really is still alive. Up to you.
Here’s a real life example of a particular CRM system being declared ‘DOA’:
Over there on the right of the screen is the system that one of our clients was running prior to them working with us. You’ve noticed that it is a set of shelves with a lot of paperwork on it right? A perfectly acceptable way of managing and indeed, historically, it had proven to be a highly efficient way of the team managing their workflow for existing clients and prospects. The height of the stacks of paper and the separation into different piles all had significance. The system had been appropriate for the company “life-stage” – it had been easy to work with and with care and diligence it was a highly effective method of keeping track of what was going on.
But as the Company’s reputation for a high-quality and trustworthy service began to spread, the company started to grow. Alongside the growth in customer volumes, the number of employees had to grow and the amount of paperwork and processing also increased. Now the shelving unit “CRM” system began to creak under the weight (err, literally) and less experienced, newer team members struggled with getting the pieces of paper back into the right pile in a timely fashion for the rest of the team.
The team knew that to risk pushing for more client work with “just” the filing shelves to facilitate the work was dangerous and would more than likely create work-errors and damage their business reputation. If they were to attain and maintain the growth that their hard work was creating then they would need to remove the strangle-hold of the existing system. This particular CRM system was therefore declared officially dead.
Cut to 4 months later and this company is now running JunariCRM+. Cut to another 4 months later and this company has now quadrupled in team size and has seem some massive shifts in new business volumes and repeat business. Add on another few months and this company is returning to Junari to have further modules implemented and further tailoring completed. The JunariCRM+ system both enables and tracks the business’ growth and work-practices. This particular CRM system is therefore declared officially alive and thriving!
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