218 6.5 A 12-stage CRM strategy
6.5 A 12-stage CRM strategy
In the experience of many organizations, CRM is a powerful growth strategy
capable of producing significant benefits and transforming both organiza-
tions and industries. However, for every company that has achieved dramatic
success, there are many others that are still struggling to realize the full poten-
tial of their customer-driven growth strategies. For these latter organizations,
the path of implementation has been filled with obstacles and the pace of
implementation has been far slower and more frustrating than anticipated.
The lessons learned by others and the methodologies and technologies
available can be used by any organization to make the change from a product
or service orientation to a customer-focused orientation that provides strong
returns on the CRM investment in a matter of months rather than years. The
12-stage CRM strategy outlined in this section is a proven methodology for
resolving many issues in a logical, efficient manner. Although no two compa-
nies can follow precisely the same implementation path, the stages defined
here need to be a part of the process, and most of them can be carried out
simultaneously. Some organizations will already have moved through some
of these stages; others will need to start at the beginning. The following para-
graphs describe in detail the activities involved in each stage and the signifi-
cance of each of the 12 stages.
12-Stage CRM Strategy
1. Develop a clear set of business objectives.
2. Formulate a detailed Plan of Action.
3. Provide strong leadership.
4. Institute changes in corporate culture.
5. Obtain support of a senior management member.
6. Build in stages, starting with the most crucial area.
7. Create an integrated business design.
8. Concentrate on activities that create economic value.
9. Develop a customer-driven product and service development process.
10. Encourage the development of organizational capabilities in team
11. Generate early “wins” to create a self-funding process.
12. Include customers in a two-way flow of communication.
6.5 A 12-stage CRM strategy 219
Develop a clear set of business objectives
Defining clear business objectives is an obvious first step in any project,
major or minor. However, because of the evolutionary nature of a CRM
strategy and the involvement of so many areas of an organization, it is
extremely important to establish business objectives that will create a com-
petitive advantage and guide the overall implementation process. These
objectives should relate to the fundamental concept behind a CRM solution.
The business case prepared to convince senior management of the bene-
fits of CRM should be firmly and logically based on overall corporate
objectives—perhaps the corporate mission statement, if one exists. It
should include information about direct competitors and how the system
supports corporate strategies, plus the expected qualitative and quantitative
benefits. As mentioned earlier, improving customer satisfaction and creat-
ing a base of more loyal customers will have both qualitative and quantita-
tive benefits—more sales per customer, lower cost of sales, incremental sales
via referrals, and ultimately more profits. Some of these benefits may be
intangible, but collectively, they are powerful reasons to support CRM.
Formulate a detailed plan of action
Four to eight weeks will be required to develop a comprehensive plan defin-
ing the type of customer-focused initiatives that will establish the new way
of doing business, the organizational operational changes, and enabling
technologies that will be the driving forces behind implementation.
Technology planning and implementation should be closely integrated
with the business planning phases to create a self-correcting process. With
an integrated process, the planned business objectives and the organiza-
tional and operational changes define the requirements for the enabling
technologies. The process of selecting the enabling technologies may iden-
tify feasibility issues that require adjustment to the original business plans.
To structure the planning process, it is very useful to develop a frame-
work that describes the role and interrelationship of each of the operational
areas required. A staged approach, in which operating capabilities are devel-
oped only to the point needed to realize near-term objectives, is far more
viable than one designed to meet every conceivable need for the next 20
years. Five guidelines for a staged project are
Build for the near term
Make it scalable