I receive several calls each month from organizations looking for a demo of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software package. Most of those asking believe CRM is something you can purchase. However, CRM is not available for sale on a shelf, because it is not software. If you are not familiar with my definition of CRM you will find it here.
CRM Software is a tool that can be used to help organizations manage the relationships with their customers. Software also can help people within an organization to be more productive and better informed as to their customer’s historic purchase patterns, future needs, and overall strength. Finally, software can alert of instances requiring attention, automate processes, and automate communications related to processes. However, this all happens within the boundaries of an organization’s customer-centric business strategy.
Why would I say that CRM is not about software when part of my job is selling software? It comes down to one simple philosophy: I am only interested in implementing CRM software in cases where the implementation of software is in alignment with the organization’s customer-centric business strategy. In this case, CRM software implementation will be a part of the solution for specific, defined business needs.
Think about this for a moment: If you were to take your current practices of customer communication and tracking, and your cultural beliefs about your customers and your sales process and simply automate them would you be any better off? Or, would you simply be taking poor practices and a less-than optimal customer culture and making them happen more quickly? Ultimately, CRM software is only as good as the customer-centric business strategy that drives the implementation.