CRM is a concept that’s essential for any business to fully understand. Unfortunately it’s often misused in the boardroom and other management discussions. In my experience, it’s always a case of two extremes when the topic of CRM comes into meetings:
- The suits tend to see it as purely a business process.
- The techies on the other hand, see it as yet another system.
So who’s right? Ironically, both of them are right and wrong at the same time.
As mentioned in Wikipedia:
Customer relationship management is a corporate level strategy, focusing on creating and maintaining relationships with customers. However, CRM is not a technology itself, but rather a holistic approach to an organisation’s philosophy, placing the emphasis firmly on the customer.
Therefore, there’s no specific tool that can provide CRM capabilities to an organisation, regardless what the vendors promised… if you don’t actually build relationships extending trade with your customers.
The reason why I’m writing about CRM is due to an experience I had in a previous meeting regarding my company’s web site initiation process. In this meeting, a key non-IT department brought along an external consultant claiming to be from a marketing background.
This consultant had suggested an almost overall overhaul of the web site, which essentially would transform it from an informative web site, to something which could theoritically make it more interactive.
Foundation wise, this new direction will make the web site user-centric as compared to the initial plan of it being product-centric. Honestly, I find the whole idea to be ridiculous as if this plan was executed according to this consultant’s proposal, the onus would be upon my company to moderate and maintain this web site. Imagine stuffing a property developer’s web site with flash games and forums and a classifieds section. This is to me is very much unnecessary as it moves resources from the core business into a something which is not only unnecessary, but alien to the proposed department which is going to be assigned these new duties.
The funny thing about this whole incident is that the IT head find this whole mumbo-jumbo by the consultant to be an extremely good idea compared to the initial plan. What crushes me the most is this statement he mentioned; “You guys know what this means? We’re now heading towards implementing CRM with this web site project”.
It simply kills me that the involvement of “customers” with this new direction is literally non-existant. Listed below are specific reasons why I state it as so:
- Requires potentially messy data migration/synchronisation
- Customers data need to be converted from a separate database into an undecided database system [Bad points: Unverified data source, Unnecessary Integration, Lack of Business Value]
- Additional steps to synchronise data and obtain compulsory data which existing customers may not have (eg. email address) [Bad points: Time consuming, Lack of Business Value]
- May require additional infrastructure and skill-building investments [Bad Points: Becomes a Cost Centre, Decreases mobility]
- The cost factor
- Time [Bad points: Taking an irrecoverable resource away]
- Money [Bad points: Incurred expenditure are neither core business related nor business support costs]
- Pure theorisation based on irrelevant or incompatible technology-business model [Bad points: Disruption of Risk vs Benefit Analysis, Uncharted territories]
- Blurred roles and responsibilities delegation [Bad points: Skillset incompatibility, Restrategisation costs]
However, as my senior has put it, I may not see the “big picture”. This is probably true, yet I find that using correction fluid to draw it is in essence, a poor execution strategy.
Care to give your two cents?