CRM is more than software

Customer relationship management is not something that can be achieved by installing a software package. Truly, to manage the relationships you have with your customers, you must create a culture within your organization that focuses every employee on the importance of the customer.

All too often, executives think that the installation of a software product will be a panacea to all their customer-relationship woes. The truth is that the technological aspects of implementing a CRM project amount to only 20 - 40% of the required effort. Much more important is the total commitment of the organization to recognizing the importance of the customer.

What does this mean? Everyone who ever talks to a customer, takes an action that will impact a customer, or has anything to do with a product or service that a customer will use (i.e. everyone in the company) understands and buys into the CRM philosophy. It is critical that such a sea change takes place before, or at least at the same time as, the implementation of CRM software.

So if you're considering a CRM project, place as much effort into designing the human aspects of the adoption of CRM as you do the technical. Things like company meetings, the publication (both internally and externally) of customer success stories, organized visits to customer sites to see how they use your products, and conversations with your customers on a regular basis are things that your employees

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can do with or without software.

CRM is people, process, and technology. An outstanding CRM initiative requires all three legs of the CRM stool to remain in balance. How is your stool sitting today?

Stephen Brooks is vice president of marketing for MultiActive Software Corp., in Vancouver, B.C. Multiactive (www.multiactive.com) publishes Maximizer, Entice and ecBuilder CRM and e-commerce software solutions.

This was first published in October 2000

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