A challenge for any company is properly managing customer interactions. Sometimes overlooked in a small-company environment, customer relationship management should be an important process within any company in the life science research industry, even those who do not sell directly to end-users. A lack of proper customer relationship management can lead to poor understanding of marketing effectiveness, a lack of valuable customer feedback, a lack of understanding about the customer base, loss of potential sales, etc. Despite the great potential benefits, however, CRM implementation should not be taken lightly.
Reports from Gartner Group and Meta Group had three very striking findings: 1) Over 50% of CRM implementations are viewed as failures by the customer, 2) 55-75% of CRM implementations fail to meet their objectives, and 3) customers usually underestimate the costs of CRM implementations by 40-75%. Forrester Research, in an article published in CRM Magazine, elaborated on some of the problems experienced during CRM implementation. The problems most commonly cited by executives were:
|Defining New Processes||16.2%|
These numbers indicate that while customer relationship management is a very important process, it is not one to be taken lightly.
How can your company successfully integrate a CRM platform and avoid being one of the 50%+ who have a “failed” implementation? Being aware of the common problems is one key step, but it is not enough to simply know the problems – you need to be able to create solutions. One of the most common inhibitors to the creation of such solutions is that companies do not fully understand the problems that a CRM platform is trying to solve. Ask yourself: What are the issues that I am trying to address by implementing a CRM platform? How do you hope to improve marketing? How do you hope to improve sales? How about customer support? Do not simply assume that implementing a CRM platform will be a silver bullet to a myriad of problems. You need to define and design it to do so.
If you already integrated a customer relationship management system and you are not happy with the implementation, there is still good news. Chances are that your CRM system is built with enough flexibility to not require starting from scratch. CRM systems are generally very flexible and customizable and often they will have features or capabilities that will be able to solve the problems that you may be experiencing.
Customer relationship management can a very powerful tool across multiple functions of your business. Successful implementation, however, requires a good understanding of both your business, its needs, and CRM systems. Having all of this knowledge before delving into a CRM implementation project can help ensure the effectiveness of the system as well as constrain the costs of the project.