CRM Mistakes Are More Costly Than Midsize Business May Realize

By | Jul 9, 2012
Topic: CRM/ERP

Customer relationship management (CRM) is the future, say managers of midsize businesses to their IT admins. They claim that Big Data and tracking the customer experience will lead their companies to the promised land of books in the black and an ever-growing list of clients. Exactly how to find, implement, and fully utilize a CRM solution, however, is often left up to an IT professional, one who may not be familiar with the many CRM mistakes a company can make. As CRM and cloud acquisitions spread across the market--the recent RBA deal is a good example--IT needs to know not just what they are buying but from whom they are buying it.

And You Are?

A July 3rd, 2012, article at Talkin' Cloud discusses Microsoft partner RBA's recent acquisition of Meritide's Office 365 and Dynamics CRM customers, totalling approximately 150 clients. While this is good news for RBA, since they will instantly gain Microsoft Gold Competency status and credibility in the Dynamics market, the jury's still out on just how great this will be for customers. RBA joins a growing list of partner firms that have branched out and bought peer companies with a slightly different focus than their own in an effort to make deeper market gains. But does this practice really give customers like midsize businesses the best service for their dollar?

At this point, it's difficult to judge RBA--the deal was completed only on June 28--but the trend is interesting. One of the most common CRM mistakes is to de-personalize the experience, to focus on the "management" rather than the "customer" part of the acronym. As tech companies try to do everything instead of excelling in just a single field, there is a real possibility that consumers may get lost in the shuffle. It's possible RBA will be a shining example of how to do it right, but that begs the question: How exactly does a company get CRM right?

Doing It Wrong

The trouble, of course, is that it's much easier to fail at delivering high-quality CRM than it is to succeed. A midsize business IT looking for a CRM solution may not know exactly what will best suit their companies and its customers, but they will be certain instantly if the CRM service they are receiving from a provider starts to decay.

Take the example of a traveler in a CRM Buyer article from July 5th, 2012. It calls to light a number of common CRM system failures. In the article, the traveler does everything right by calling their bank before a trip to Europe and letting them know there may be some debit card use in strange places. When the traveller arrives and tries to use the card, it's cancelled by the bank without warning and without contact. The bank then takes weeks to ship a new card and PIN (separately) and charges the traveler $35 for the privilege. Every agent they speak to is apologetic but can do nothing substantive to help. Needless to say, the traveler quickly finds another bank.

This is where CRM mistakes can haunt a company, even if they seem small on the face. In the case of the bank, giving their agents the authority to refund meaningless service charges would be a start, but more importantly the CRM system needed to carry the customer's data about going to Europe across all company sections. Sure, front-line agents knew about the trip but that information obviously didn't make it to security.

Midsize IT admins tasked with finding a CRM solution should start by looking at any providers they currently use. Do their CRM systems provide enough substantive data coupled with enough end-user ability? Next comes CRM solution selection; as the market begins to focus on broad acquisition over single-target focus, it's important to find a CRM tool not simply acquired but fully supported by its maker or owner. CRM mistakes are easy to make, but can be very costly.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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