3 Ways to Maximize CRM Systems
By Frank Dravis
Be it for a call center, sales force automation, campaign management or marketing statistical modeling application, customer relationship management (CRM) is the typical solution enterprises turn to when faced with the threat of:
>growing amounts of poorly organized customer data;
>demands to better identify, target and communicate to customers; or
>suspected loss of key customer accounts.
The Problem: Dirty Data
CRM solutions facilitate the organized capture, storage, retrieval, analysis and reporting of customer information. A CRM system's success is directly proportional to the quality of information captured by it. Most technology research firms agree that organizations greatly underestimate the time and resources required to perform the data cleansing functions associated with deploying a CRM system. It's a key reason we've experienced the high rate of CRM implementation failures that have made news headlines.
According to Giga Information Group Research Director Lou Agosta, data quality occasionally has turned out to be the "weak underbelly" of CRM implementations. Without data quality, Agosta asserts, the risk is that the client will implement CRM but "miss" the customer. For example, the true value of an individual customer—or potential cross-sell and upsell opportunities—might not be recognized, because knowing the lifetime value of a customer requires aggregating a lifetime of customer transactions across multiple systems and data sets.
Giga recommends enterprises establish a data quality plan as part of any new CRM initiative. "The installation of a new CRM system often acts as a lightning rod for the constellation of data quality issues, as the system is loaded with data from other back-end systems in the enterprise," Agosta notes.
How do organizations discover they have a data quality problem? Often, the first attempt to use the analytical or reporting capabilities of the CRM system to gain a single view of the customers reveals that one customer has been captured half a dozen ways, or more!