Optimal CRM Solutions
By Brad Connard
My brother-in-law the neurologist—it sounds more like the start of a great joke than a discussion about selecting the optimal outsourced CRM solution. That said, my brother-in-law has significantly contributed to my thinking about CRM solutions. He insists that the most challenging part of his job is developing an accurate diagnosis. If done correctly, the cure is frequently the easier part.
As I've reflected on my experience in both obtaining and providing CRM solutions, the most challenging aspect also is with the diagnosis. If we don't fully understand the problem, how can we develop the CRM cure? Accordingly, the first step in selecting an outsourced CRM solution is thoroughly defining the business problem at hand.
Diagnosis is the first of three core steps to curing the CRM business blues through an appropriate outsourced solution.
1) Diagnosis. Identify the problem.
2) Solution prescription. Determine the correct way to fix it.
3) Outsourcer evaluation and selection. Pick the best outsource partner.
I've seen too many CRM solutions fail due to misidentification of both the business objectives and the underlying root business problem(s). Business objectives for outsourcing can include cost management, acquiring new technology capabilities without capital investment, or acquiring new CRM capabilities without adding new headcount. Knowing the business objective and the business problems (customer acquisition, retention, customer profitability, etc.) will drive the correct criteria for evaluating CRM outsource alternatives.
A valuable tool in supporting the diagnosis is the business case. The business case quantifies the magnitude of the problem, prioritizes the relative importance of investing in a solution and helps to obtain corporate buy-in to the outsourcing decision.
Developing a correct diagnosis requires the proper vision. Sometimes those charged with obtaining the CRM solution may be too close to a situation to objectively assess it, or they may not be familiar enough with the issues to know all the questions to ask. A team approach, supplemented by an objective and experienced third party, is a great way to obtain an accurate diagnosis.