Balancing information and action : CRM systems
We grew up on proverbs and one of the most enduring ones happens to be: “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.
But, step back a little- would you agree that a little knowledge is still better than no knowledge at all? Especially when it comes to customers. If in doubt, ask the telemarketer who gets a sheet of paper in the morning with 100 names and phone numbers to call by the evening and no other information. How on earth does she structure her call? More information about the persons she is calling would allow he to customize the message for specific audiences- and convert more to a customer from a prospect.
The trouble is- the information continuum from “no-knowledge” to “everything that there is to know” is not treated as such but more like a binary system. This is even more accentuated depending on the perspective of the person you talk to- in sales or in marketing.
Marketing wants perfect information- sales does as well- but, in most cases customer information is obtained only from the sales team. So, faced with the task of populating all the information fields in the “contact profile” or “account profile” screens- sales does the easiest thing possible- simply refuse. This is surely not ideal. In all my experience designing, deploying, customizing and using CRM systems- I have seen the biggest issue is always getting the sales team to see value in using the CRM systems.
It is my experience that as the familiarity and usage increases, you can choose to increase the amount of information capture.
So, I have 3 simple rules for introducing CRM in your organization:
1. Keep it simple- less is actually better- when it comes to customer information. Not only is profile data “outdated” virtually the moment you input it, it is always inconsistently captured. So, some profiles may have department filled up but not designation and some may have designation but not department. And, activity data is always better than static profile data- it allows you to, over time draw up a far better profile than simple static profile. Other good thing is that activity profiles captures can be automated to a large extent.
2. Have a clear use model for the information you are capturing- if you do not intend to use the customer’s age group in any marketing activity- do not capture it. No use, none whatsoever.
3. Opt for pre-defined workflows rather than flexibility. I know this is contra-intuitive but let me explain this. When you are in the early stages of any process implementation, it is an opportunity to often learn from what works outside rather than something that has so far been working for you. After all, if your existing processes were serving you fine, you would not have been wanting to implement a CRM system, would you?