CRM must be part of daily life

MicroPartner defies the statistics. The statistics revealing that too many CRM projects fail. Experience, matching of expectations and customer involvement are key drivers when MicroPartner enters into a CRM partnership.

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“For the 15 years the company has existed, we at MicroPartner have dealt exclusively in CRM. We have had more than 150 customers at home and abroad, and at this point in time we have to go back quite a few years to find an unsuccessful MicroPartner CRM project,” says Allen Campbell, business consultant at MicroPartner.

An unusual introduction and company presentation for the approx. 100 participants at MicroPartner’s seminar on digitisation and CRM, one might say. But sadly, CRM as a discipline carries a heavy legacy of failed projects, which is why it still makes sense to admit that yes, some of our experience has been hard-earned. But to us and our customers, that is a thing of the past.

“MicroPartner’s fundamental approach to CRM is that we work in a close partnership with the customer, where the customer knows its market and its own customers, and we bring technological know-how and CRM expertise,” Allen Campbell explains, before adding: “We do not walk in as slick consultants and pull a diagnosis and a solution out of our sleeve by lunchtime. On the contrary, we spend the time required to get to know our customers and their business before we get to work on CRM. To start work on CRM without knowing and understanding the business makes no sense at all.”

The large or the small wish list

With years of CRM experience under his belt, Allen Campbell is happy to share his knowledge: “If you make CRM wish lists based on everything in the diverse offering of IT solutions, there is a great risk of ending up with a CRM project which is either not completed or which stutters along, but does not live up to expectations,” Allen Campbell states firmly.

He elaborates on his point: “There is a tendency of wanting too much and working with CRM like the Big Bang – even in projects where you start with a version 1, people are prone to wanting too much. Refine, prioritise and focus. Those are our clear recommendations. And also accept a long implementation process, allowing users and the organisation time to absorb it all and take it in. Even if you progress in small steps, you can easily work towards an overall vision.”

First, get an overview of the processes

With CRM solutions from Microsoft, you can do all sorts of things in all sorts of ways, Allen Campbell says. For that same reason, he advises people to be very concrete about how a given process must be addressed, before they start to even load it into the system.

“In our projects, we do not try not to solve all business processes in step 1. We take some specific processes and become totally concrete as to how they should be addressed and then we implement them in the system,” says Allen Campbell and explains: “Only when we are specific in regards to the process can we get the right data into the system, making it something which can actually be used afterwards. The same is true of roles: be specific, letting the user see that this, this was designed for me and I can use it in my daily life.”

All the data on one screen is not the goal

Many perceive CRM as a system which collects massive amounts of customer data and makes it all available on one, uncluttered screen. But that is not the goal of CRM, says Allen Campbell.

“Instead of focusing on making huge amounts of data available, focus on providing the user with practical insight, ensuring that the information can actually be used for something. And one should not automatically strive to present everything in one window, it does not necessarily create an overview,” says Allen Campbell; and he goes on: “For example, creating and using information are two different things, so design a screen for each task. Also design manageable and relevant dashboards as an entry-point – this provides a simplified overview, from which the user can then dig further to find more detailed information.”

Allen Campbell’s advice is low-hanging fruit, not just when developing new CRM solutions, but also if you have an existing solution that lags behind: “If you have a CRM solution which is not functioning properly or not being used, don’t change everything. Try to make adjustments based on these guidelines, see if that helps the customer get started.”

Training and testing makes CRM usable

“At MicroPartner, we always train our customers in the CRM solution before we go into design mode. Training gives users an understanding of what things mean, how features work, and why we may have opted out of some standard functionality along the way. We also place a lot of emphasis on testing whether the solution works in everyday life, whether users can do what they need to do,” says Allen Campbell; “It does not help that the test went well if users cannot use the system in their daily lives.”