1crmCustomer Relationship Management (CRM) is more than just a software. It’s a strategy that affects all employees of a company and not just a question of the right software for data management, data enrichment and data analysis. Rather, CRM is the foundation for a customer-oriented corporate strategy that aims at customer acquisition, loyalty and development, and every company must have the one and only strategy in mind to use the CRM application successfully.

The point is that each person in a company must deal with CRM, because today almost every unit in a company is a touchpoint for customers and every customer experience at every touchpoint has an influence on the image of the company – hence, at least indirectly, also on sales and marketing. Therefore, CRM is also a change management process that fundamentally transforms a company and the behavior of its employees. That’s why the implementation of CRM must be managed and accompanied accordingly.

Essentially, implementing a CRM system means a change in work processes and objectives for employees who want to know why this is done and why the new software is introduced. But above all, the employees are interested in the improvements the change brings compared to the current state. For the company in general, but also for them personally, and what’s in for them. These main questions drive the employees, because when companies introduce a new system, it is at the same time an implicit reproach, which is why it is the more important to speak openly about the changes and the related objectives. Not to mention that a new IT system usually must be learned and understood and employees need time to become familiar with it.

As the management consultant Scott Madden gets to the point: “Human beings are inherently control oriented. People feel the most competent, confident, and comfortable when their expectations of control, stability, and predictability are being met. In a static situation, expectations are met, but when change occurs, people’s expectations are disrupted. Studies have shown that not addressing people’s “disrupted” state has a cost and should not be ignored.
IT innovations, including the introduction of CRM, might be relatively simple changes in the eyes of the technicians and just a matter of accepting and learning a new system, but employees know very well that changes in the IT landscape also change processes and goals, so it should be openly communicated from the outset, since confusion about the change process would only create resistance.

Nothing should be done rashly, but well thought-out, and answer the questions “What do we want to achieve, why, and how do we want to achieve it?” before considering an implementation. Companies need a strategy and work hard on it, since without this analysis and goal phase, it is almost certain they will run out of time in the project and budgets will be significantly exceeded.

The management is a decisive success factor and should show its leadership commitment, too. If employees have the impression that the corporate management is not interested in the changes, or the project has no priority for them, their motivation is zero. Even more important is to show what it brings, how it makes each individual employee more efficient and successful. In a nutshell, a targeted project alignment is indispensable, which needs the collaboration of all.

By Daniela La Marca