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CRM: Strategic Engine or Just Another Tool?

CRM?strategic engine or just another technology tool? How would you answer this question about your company's CRM initiative? It depends on how honest you are in answering some other questions, including:

Do your people have real decision-making power to provide great customer service?

Do you have the right people with the right knowledge and skills?

Are you including people across the board, not just in your customer service and call centers?

The bottom line is that people skill sets need to be similar to the technology they are using -- information sharing needs to be fast, focused, integrated.

Let's Start With the Leaders

For CRM to become the strategic engine, not just a tool that people opt to use when they choose, managers and leaders need to demonstrate the new vision through their day-to-day actions. Leadership is about making a vision happen. If you want your CRM strategy to be the engine that drives growth and profitability, take a look at what your leaders are doing and how they are behaving.

The heart of strategic change is when the leadership makes the conscious choice to focus on actions that matter. When an organization undergoes significant and fundamental transition, leaders must be teachers and role models of the new actions and behaviors. Leaders who successfully transition to new operating values and practices are those who recognize they are on a steep learning curve and adopt a personal learning ethic that others can model.

What About Everyone Else?

Just as any change needs good leaders, making CRM the strategic engine requires good followers. People need to have the knowledge and skill sets that will translate the vision to a seamless customer experience. Having the skill to build personal and professional networks of information and knowledge will allow managers and employees to think and act in less linear ways. There is a need to learn to behave as integrated teams, not individual contributors or functions.

Teaming, problem-solving behaviors across job boundaries, knowledge-discovery skills, personal networking outside the department, and building relationships to share knowledge and information are rarely seen metrics on employee performance evaluation forms. Yet these are the skills required to drive the CRM strategic engine. Those skills need to be valued, encouraged, and rewarded by the organization.

Don't Take New Roles For Granted

To move CRM deeper into the ethos of the company culture, clear and unambiguous roles for leaders and employees need to be communicated. When people have a role beyond that of being an individual contributor, accountability, involvement, and interest in making CRM the strategic engine all increase.

The key is communicating what new roles leaders and employees are expected to fill. As social scientists and consultants, it has been our experience that there is always a portion of leaders and employees who can't or won't adopt the new vision. This is why there are always tough people decisions involved in a large system change initiative.

Copyright 2002 Dailey & O'Brien, Inc.

(c) 2004 TurningPointe Marketing, Inc. All rights reserved.
Marketing educator, Kelly O'Brien, is creator of the "Create a
TurningPointe!" Marketing Bootcamp. To learn more about this step-by-step
program, and to sign up for FREE how-to articles and 20-page marketing
guide, visit http://www.turningpointemarketing.com

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