CRM as a Process Platform

Welcome to the second in a series of posts on CRM* (*Customer Relationship Management) made simple.  Each post on the topic is in response to questions I have been asked as a specialised CRM consultant over the past few years. The aim is to summarise some of the key issues and provide practical take away points that you can use now. You are welcome to offer comments and ask questions to expand or clarify any of the content.

Sometimes people ask for a definition of CRM. The reality is that the collective processes, systems and tools that are used to interact with customers are much broader than a piece of software or a call centre service.

CRM is really a process platform that allows you to model and structure customer facing processes in a way that suits your business.

A CRM system consists of a CRM strategy typically around new business sales, marketing and service delivery.  That strategy uses some CRM software as a framework to capture and centralise the corporate memory of a business into shared wisdom that can be used to benefit customers.

If you like – the example of the small town corner store where the shop keeper knows your history and can save you time and energy because of that. That style tends to work when customer numbers are small and when staff stays in roles for many years. However due to the pace of modern life that expert customer knowledge often dies when experienced staff move on. In a retail situation a customer loyalty system might be one way that a CRM approach can help.

Many years ago I was part of a team that designed management operating systems to help improve productivity for business. We tried to understand and analyse each key activity in the workplace and then to standardise the range of preferred responses which would be supported by training. Later this became part of the business process reengineering (BPR) wave all designed to try and template and replicate customer processes so that management could be more precise about forecasting and planning.

Both productivity consulting and BPR had their faults but they were correct in thinking that you can define and standardise key processes then it is easier to scale those businesses. An effective CRM project goes to the next stage and enables all of those key processes to be mapped and the consequent interactions to be shared across the company. Enabling those processes can now be achieved via CRM.

Here are 5 more summary points.
1. A CRM system is no substitute for effective management practices.

2. CRM is a strategy not a product or silver bullet.

3. Sustainable CRM is something that nurtures and energizes the culture

4. CRM is an extended conversation between your customers and your company.

5. CRM is part of your passion for customers. Listen, engage and satisfy those needs, desires and goals.

So what is your CRM process plan? How does it support your customers? How does it make the relationship and transactions easier for your staff, your partners and suppliers? 

The most successful CRM incorporates existing process workflows in a supporting role which is what I mean by CRM as a process platform.

If you liked this please check out earlier posts What Is CRM Used For? and Strategy of CRM in this category.

Send any questions or comments on through.