Why spending millions on a CRM solution alone won’t get you that ROI ?

calvin Hindle
6 min readNov 3, 2019

33% of global CRM projects fail according to the CIO magazine (https://www.cio.com/article/2381909/what-to-do-when-your-crm-project-fails.html)The analysis further elaborates that there are many reasons for these failures and the most common ones in high level are,

  • · Incapability of the CRM product
  • · Not identifying clear goals of the CRM project
  • · Negative user experience of the product.
  • · Data quality issues
  • · Low business user involvement at initial stages of the project
  • · Not identifying the end user expectations at an early stage.
  • · Bad project management
  • · Poor requirement gathering & Business use case identification
  • · Integration nightmare

But here is my opinion and a view point of it, Customer Experience has been misunderstood as a Technology first approach & many organizations believe that implementing a CRM software can take their customer experience strategy to the next level and win quick ROI. Customer Experience is not a technology first approach !, even before organizations think of investing in a CRM solution they should take a few steps back and look at the current customer experience strategy. Many professionals have forgotten that CRM is basically a lot of common sense and its more Human driven than technology driven. Yes its true that there are many high end CRM application’s geared with Bi analytics , predictive analytics , machine learning and these would definitely help an organization to make efficient decisions & have an overall view of its business. But it is very important to not complicate things at times and look at the ground level of the customer experience. Sometimes organization would misunderstand and invest heavily in a CRM application but the end result would be not as expected.

Why do organizations invest heavily on customer experience in the first place ? if you take many years back, for an example in the industrial revolution you had businesses that were playing a monopoly game , in a sense there weren’t any competition so even if the company did not treat its customer well , the customer would still do business with them because there wasn’t much of an alternative option. But is it the same case now ? NO ! , as an example just look at the Mobile phone industry , every brand pretty much has the same functionality and features isn’t it ? some of the new Chinese mobile manufactures have far more advanced features than even the iconic Apple iPhone , but why does the iPhone still stand out as a legit brand ? Yes Apple had been the pioneers in many of the Mobile phone innovation & technologies but in the present day the other brands may have surpassed them in certain areas. But still the iPhone & the Apple brand seems to stand out from its competitors. This is not because Apple purchased a Million dollar CRM solution !, it’s because apple had created a brand that is like a culture, its represents a person’s identify & personality , it has an emotional touch and Steve jobs had played a huge role in creating this vision for apple.

But yes every organization cannot be Apple, but what companies should do is when they identify there is a need to have a new customer experience strategy in place, they should go down to the ground level and put themselves in their customer shoes and see where the gaps and improvements need to be done.

The customer experience strategy should always be human first, most of the organization’s get this wrong. For an example lets say you have the worlds most best kick ass CRM solution and your call center agents have all the information at their fingertips, But with all this power in their hands when a customer calls in or communicates via digital medium , if the agents experience in handling a customer and communication skills are low the customer is very likely to get ticked off. I have experienced this all the time in most of the organizations here in Sri Lanka, the worse can be seen in some of the leading banks. when you call their call center , the agents are not experienced and they handle customers very rudely most of the time. And most importantly their communication skills are very low as well. They don’t have the experience in handling a panicked or ticked off customer. This is one of the main areas that organizations should invest heavily, they need to hire the right people not just school leavers for low salaries but people who are passionate to talk to customers and solve problems. The organization need to have a strategy to train these customer facing agents , they need to create an importance for their jobs, they need to show that they are the most important people in the organizations because they are the ones who are directly communicating with the customers and representing the brand. This is what I mean by focusing on human first, going to the ground level & making this a passionate job.

Also the organizations should look at customer service & marketing as one unit. You don’t need to spend millions on marketing if you get your customer service right , and when I mean right it needs to be exceptional ! The phrase “Customer is King” is not just a phrase, it has to be put into action. If the customer service gears up, customer will become loyal fans, and once this happen in this social media influence era the word will spread and your brand is going to shine among the others. Customer service & marketing should work closely in identifying its brand’s story and telling that story to its customers in a unique way. This needs the creative mindsets. Marketing automation modules from the CRM application can be used to communicate and track activities of the campaigns , but the story needs to be created with an extremely creative mindset and that requires out of the box thinkers.

As explained previously the employees of the customer service divisions should also be highlighted in the organization, most of the time I see that the customer service division is undermined, it is just considered as the call center. As explained earlier these people need to be geared up and appreciated for their work. They need to be shown how valuable they are to the organization. They need to be given the right tools.

The talk of the town these days is on how we can completely replace the first level customer facing agent with bots. Yes , technologies such as AI can definitely help to automate repetitive tasks, augment human communication & open up unforeseen insights, but businesses should always know to draw the boundaries and not over implement these solutions that would completely cut the human touch of an organization.

Once the organizations gets their basics right then they can look at supportive tools such as CRM solutions. When implementing a CRM solution the organization should establish tangible KPI’s & ROI. This is the most important stage even before the project starts, to do this they need to see what are the most burning requirements. They should have a proper traceable project plan to trace once the CRM is implementing how well its contributing to the organization existing processes. Example, if the call center agents were solving 100 tickets a day with the CRM they should be able to close 30–40 % more with the centralized knowledge base and smart routing capabilities etc. Another example would be if the marketing team is spending X amount for its marketing campaigns ,with the CRM marketing module they should be able to have a precis traceable ROI in terms of clicks, views, positive comments & lead conversation to their campaigns. All this can be done with the CRM solution in placed.

So as explained previously going down to the ground level & looking at it as a more human first approach would definitely change how the business looks at its customers and create new innovative approach for customer experience.

And another important aspect is that a company’s customer experience strategy should be able to adopt and change time to time with the competition & technological revolutions. Most of the time we see organizations following the same old processes for more than 10–20 years and most of these are outdated and inefficient. Staying up to date with an innovative mindset is extremely important to stay ahead of the game.

Finally , we must always remember that technology is only a tool for us and it can never replace the human touch of a business.