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5 symptoms of a failing CRM

Supplier: Maximizer Software
07 May, 2013

Time to consider a check up - Migration to a new business application or technology is often a rare event for most organisations, particularly when it comes to CRM software solutions.

The amount of historic data, pre-defined user behaviors, as well as engrained business and operational processes tied to a pre-existing CRM solution make it a difficult transition for organisations to embark upon.

Gartner's 2012 Magic Quadrant for CRM Customer Service Contact Centers suggests that most organisations opt to take anaugmentation or "band-aid" approach to the short-comings of their CRM solutions.

While such tactics are less than ideal, it is a prevalent, if not underlying belief for organisations with an inadequate contact management solution, that a disruption as monumental as replacing a CRM will undoubtedly negatively affect the organisation and it's near term goals.

The cost of doing nothing, however, can have far-reaching repercussions to data accuracy, structure and fidelity, as wellas loss of data in general. Furthermore, escalating competition for customers and finding efficiencies to lower costs, two constants that every business faces, puts added pressure on business leaders to ensure that their CRM solutions meet the criteria for operational success.

In this eBook, we explore some typical issues found with a failing CM solution and challenge you to consider if your organization is suffering from these 5 Symptoms.


A prevalent symptom of a business out-growing the value of its CRM is fragmented adoption. In other words, activities that can be accomplished within a CRM environment, whether it be organising contacts or creating reports, being conducted or completed independent of it.

Fragmented adoption is often prevalent within organisations where a legacy CRM system can no longer adapt to new or evolved business processes, scale with the addition or reduction of users, or meet the necessary technical requirements of users.

General attitudes should also be gauged, as users often have a strong opinion as to whether or not a CRM solution is actually helping them meet the objectives of their roles. CRM Magazine's study comparing user adoption rates (see graph) for business in 2005 as compared to 2009 present figures characterising flat adoption.

This indicates a misconception amongst organizations that CRM implementation correlates to actual usage. There are a few common reasons for decreasing levels of adoption in most organisations.


Too much or too little functionality and a poor user interface can act as a considerable barrier to a user successfully adopting CRM into their daily routines. A recent Forrester Wave report weighted usability as one of the top criteria out of 414 when evaluating what buyers should focus on when it comes to CRM2.

The ISO (International Organisation for Standardization) defines usability as, "the extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use." Jakob Nielsen, PhD. and usability consultant further elaborates by suggesting that usability is the confluence of 5 factors:


Today's CRM technology providers need to accept the truth that not all businesses are cut from the same fabric. Whether it is B2B or B2C, or distinctive industry specific verticals, every organisation is different
and CRM solutions need to be easily adapted to fit a wide range of unique business processes.

3 criteria that organisations should consider when evaluating the flexibility and customisable capabilities of their CRM include:


Every organisation uses specific terms and phrases when it comes to identifying key business concepts. Your CRM should provide you with a certain level of ability to edit or create fields that encapsulate the language that you use within your organisation.

While leads, subscribers and prospects may all mean the same thing, specific details pertaining to a technology lead compared to a magazine subscriber are different. Your CRM should be able to adapt to these differences by providing intuitive customisations that make sense to your business.


When it comes to CRM most solutions force companies to restructure their existing processes in order to fit within the features and capabilities, as well as reporting structures that come out-of-the-box. CRMs should not impose the restructuring of fundamental processes, especially those that have been borne over time and are successful.

The ability to create fields, workflows, as well as the capacity to customise functionalities so that your business processes operate accordingly should be readily available.


Integration is a key component for CRM platforms today as online technology and applications become more widely used for marketing automation, mass e-mail and quoting. As each application and its associated activities affect your customer database, centralising and consolidating data from those applications into your CRM is critical for business intelligence, efficiency and overall data access.


In a competitive marketplace, the ability to generate positive and meaningful customer interactions is critical for businesses today. A recent Ernst & Young survey of nearly 25,000 people across 34 different markets suggests that the power of brand loyalty is a slowly diminishing factor when it comes to purchasing behavior.

While this may present an opportunity for emerging businesses, it speaks to the increasing mobility of B2B and B2C buyers between companies and their competitors. Factors that may account for this include better pricing, more options or choices, or according the "2012 Global Customer Service Barometer" report from American Express, a decreasing sentiment amongst consumers on the level of customer service they are receiving.

Nearly a third of consumers believe that, in this current economy, businesses pay less attention to providing good customer service, a significant increase from 2011 (32% vs. 26%). How then does a CRM fit into the picture of better customer support and allowing an organisation to react to customer needs quickly and effectively?


One of the prevailing factors that determine whether a customer engagement is positive is the speed at which an issue is resolved. Your CRM should give you the ability to analyze how long cases have been pending and when and if the particular issues have been resolved.

Your CRM should also allow you generalise the overall speed of your team, the types of cases they are receiving and insights into how to continually improve and adjust customer support practices.


In an increasingly online world, a growing majority of consumers and customers are choosing the convenience and indirectness of online channels for issue resolution and customer support. Today's CRM solutions provide self-service options such as online portals and knowledge bases, as well as the ability to log issues on an organisation's website in order to meet this demand.


The ability to analyse metrics as related to customer support and service is one of the major benefits of CRM. As customer support becomes more prevalent to being competitive, the ability to analyse internal performance metrics for support such as the time it takes to resolve customer problems, severity and importance, case histories and management of multiple issues can greatly influence customer retention.


For most organisations resources are often stretched thin, particularly when it comes to customer support representatives. A functional CRM solution should allow your support representatives to do more by giving them the information and the features they need to address their case loads with greater efficiency and quality.


The introduction of mobile devices has created a paradigm shift in how businesses manage and organize human capital. As devices become more sophisticated and mobile applications catch up in terms of features, capabilities and overall experience with their desktop counterparts, organisations are steadily embracing and investing in the mobile workforce and as a result, extending the boundaries of the workplace beyond the traditional office environment.

CRM is one key business application pioneering this shift by providing sales, marketing, and customer service teams the ability to access an organisation's main CRM application through a mobile web browser. A recent report by Gartner predicts a growth rate of 500% for mobile CRM by 2014.3 This figure not only underscores the growing prevalence of mobile CRM, but also the changing dynamic of where managing a remote workforce and the benefits and competitive advantages of an "always connected" employee.

As mobile CRM becomes more prevalent in the market and the technologies propelling it mature, it will become more than just an extension of your core CRM solution, but a competitive necessity. While most CRM providers currently provide mobile web browser access, the features and functionalities available do not significantly address field-employee productivity, efficiency, as well as overall access to features that influence their processes.


The concept of Big Data is a growing trend in business. According to IBM, roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is generated every day, whereas 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. Never before in history have businesses and organisations collected data at such a rate, nor have they warehoused in such volumes.

The correlation between data and business value is much clearer today and this emergent relationship is allowing businesses to answer and address questions that they could not before. While customer information databases may not qualify as "Big Data" on a global scale, the ability to deduce business intelligence from a customer database that in turn relates to some form of business value is analogous to what Big Data represents.

A CRM solution that provides actionable business intelligence is now the norm. From sales insights to revenue forecasting, the true value of a CRM solution is characterised by its ability to deliver fast, accurate and on-demand reports and custom dashboards that visualise key performance metrics and future performance, allowing executives to make informed decisions and helping business teams to be more agile and market-focused.

While most CRM systems adequately serve the function of warehousing customer information, the ability to easily access and manipulate data for trends, forecast, insights and businessintelligence is often simplistic, inaccurate, or forces the business to relegate reporting to a third-party application such as Microsoft Excel.

Beyond functional reporting capabilities, a lack of actionable data is often a culmination of additional factors that are caused by:


The data collected by the CRM system creates a situation where there is "No Single Version of the Truth." Lack of formal administration or auditing features allows data to be inputted or manipulated without certain checks and balances, or lacks features and capabilities that allow businesses to apply cleansing practices to keep the overall integrity high.

Over time a large percentage of the information becomes unusable making business intelligence and reports highly susceptible. The inability to adequately address duplication also exacerbates data integrity issues.


The CRM system lacks the flexibility and customisation for an organisation to collect critical data and meta-data (ex. Social demographic, purchasing behavior etc.) creating gaps in customer information. Another condition is the siloing of data within a single system and an inability to correlate data and meta-data in a meaningful manner.


The data in the CRM system produces no trends or structure when collated en masse. Furthermore, when looking at customer information in segments or as a whole, the data creates ambiguity and raises more questions about the data in question that it does clarity.

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