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CRM & CSR Port (CCP) PDF Print E-mail
Written by IRRICA Group, Switzerland   
Saturday, 04 June 2011 22:48


CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is a company-wide business strategy designed to reduce costs and increase profitability by solidifying customer loyalty. True CRM brings together information from all data sources within an organization (and where appropriate, from outside the organization) to give one, holistic view of each customer in real time. This allows customer facing employees in such areas as sales, customer support, and marketing to make quick yet informed decisions on everything from cross-selling and upselling opportunities to target marketing strategies to competitive positioning tactics.

Once thought of as a type of software, CRM has evolved into a customer-centric philosophy that must permeate an entire organization. There are three key elements to a successful CRM initiative: people, process, and technology. The people throughout a company-from the CEO to each and every customer service rep-need to buy in to and support CRM. A company's business processes must be reengineered to bolster its CRM initiative, often from the view of, How can this process better serve the customer? Firms must select the right technology to drive these improved processes, provide the best data to the employees, and be easy enough to operate that users won't balk. If one of these three foundations is not sound, the entire CRM structure will crumble.

It's a strategy used to learn more about customers' needs and behaviors in order to develop stronger relationships with them. After all, good customer relationships are at the heart of business success. There are many technological components to CRM, but thinking about CRM in primarily technological terms is a mistake. The more useful way to think about CRM is as a process that will help bring together lots of pieces of information about customers, sales, marketing effectiveness, responsiveness and market trends.

If customer relationships are the heart of business success, then CRM is the valve the pumps a company's life blood. As such, CRM is best suited to help businesses use people, processes, and technology to gain insight into the behavior and value of customers. This insight allows for improved customer service, increased call center efficiency, added cross-sell and upsell opportunities, improved close rates, streamlined sales and marketing processes, improved customer profiling and targeting, reduced costs, and increased share of customer and overall profitability.

This sounds like a panacea, but CRM is not without its challenges. For CRM to be truly effective, an organization must convince its staff that change is good and that CRM will benefit them. Then it must analyze its business processes to decide which need to be reengineered and how best to go about it. Next is to decide what kind of customer information is relevant and how it will be used. Finally, a team of carefully selected executives must choose the right technology to automate what it is that needs to be automated. This process, depending upon the size of the company and the breadth of data, can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year or more. And although some firms are using Web-based CRM technologies for only hundreds of dollars per month per user, large companies may spends millions to purchase, install, and customize the technology required to support its CRM initiative.


CRM Business Strategy

CRM strategy should be aligned to the organisation's mission and purpose in order to harness the power of CRM software and bring about a sustained achievement of business objectives and profitable customer relationships. CRM strategies vary, however, the most successful strategies have several things in common.

·     Clear alignment between the organisation's purpose and the CRM strategy; a strong strategy is a direct reflection of the company's purpose and supports the company vision in direct and easy to understand terms.

·     CRM strategies must be customer focused; they should articulate the positioning, evolvement and objectives of the customer relationship.

·     CRM strategies must have senior executive sponsorship and complete buy in from across the organisation. Both staff and management take their queues from the executive team so it is imperative that the executives are visible, vocal and active in their sponsorship of the CRM strategy.

·     CRM strategies, just like other business strategies, are iterative processes; as the the organization advances so to will the CRM strategy.

CRM strategies are often realized from the achievement of specific CRM objectives. To be successful, it's imperative that objectives are thorough, measurable and directly attributed to supporting the overall strategy. Several common CRM objectives include the following:

·     Shared customer knowledge. Prospects, customers and business partners call on multiple resources in varying lines of business and through multiple communication channels. It's essential that any and all resources called upon share the same information in order to speak intelligently and with a common voice. Shared customer data ensures that each customer interaction is handled with the same degree of care while leveraging the same information across all departments, geographies and channels.

·     360 degree consolidated customer view. The achievement of a single, enterprise-wide view of the customer relationship delivers one real-time version of all customer information, eliminates duplicate data entry, reduces systems integration complexity and empowers staff with up to date knowledge and actionable customer insight.

·     Repeatable processes. The adoption of CRM automation software facilitates consistent processes, process improvements and best practices among all staff who use the software to become more efficient in their daily roles.

If developing successful strategies and objectives were either easy or routine, the CRM implementation failure rate would not be deplorably high (over 50% according to research firm Gartner). Here's a few suggestions to provoke your advanced planning.

·     Remember that CRM is not a project. Unlike with most projects, with CRM there is no end. CRM is a continuous journey and those organisations that are most successful repeatedly assess, learn and adjust and then repeat the process again.

·     Don't think of beginning a business software selection or implementation project before you've acquired senior executive sponsorship. Missing, inactive or inadequate executive sponsorship correlates to CRM failure.

·     Make sure you take the time to identify, reengineer and plan your business processes before you commit to a CRM strategy or begin looking for CRM software. Failure to thoroughly understand your business process framework, including the integration of processes with other departments, divisions or locations, may derail a thoughtful strategy or result in a poor business software selection decision.

·     CRM implementations are always challenged by user resistance. To reduce this known risk, implement a broad representative team to ensure that all departments, divisions and/or geographic locations are fully represented.

·     When evaluating CRM systems, specify the decision making criteria based upon your most strategic business objectives and in advance of reviewing software demonstrations. It's generally a big mistake to modify your decision making criteria based upon software vendor meetings and things you didn't know existed before the demonstrations.

·     Don't be tempted to bypass the Request For Proposal (RFP) document and response. The effort of gathering, documenting, prioritizing and comparing your most important business requirements to each commercial CRM software system will heavily improve your implementation project. There is a clear negative correlation between companies that do not perform a detailed and weighted RFP and companies that incur CRM failures.

·     When you do get to the business software demonstrations, do not permit the generic software shows and instead demand that vendors demonstrate the features and functions that are most important to your business. It is extremely advisable to use structured demonstration scripts so that each vendor matches their business software with your most prioritized objectives and so the vendor solutions can be fairly compared is a side by side manner. Also be certain that your demonstration requirements are detailed, measurable and scored.

·     Refrain from purchasing multiple vendor software systems if at all possible. Dealing with multiple vendor software systems, and more so with their different contracts, support plans, graphical user interfaces, release schedules, invoices and technical support groups never works well. Also, the time and cost to integrate the systems introduces significant risk and a dramatic increase in the total cost of ownership (TCO). Be wary of presumed integrated software products; the actual depth and quality of system integration seldom matches the marketing brochure.


Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is:

  • An obligation, beyond that required by the law and economics, for a firm to pursue long term goals that are good for society
  • The continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as that of the local community and society at large
  • About how a company manages its business process to produce an overall positive impact on society
  • Corporate social responsibility (CSR, also called corporate consciencecorporate citizenshipsocial performance, or sustainable responsible business)[1] is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and international norms. The goal of CSR is to embrace responsibility for the company's actions and encourage a positive impact through its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere. Furthermore, CSR-focused businesses would proactively promote the public interest (PI) by encouraging community growth and development, and voluntarily eliminating practices that harm the public sphere, regardless of legality. CSR is the deliberate inclusion of PI into corporate decision-making, that is the core business of the company or firm, and the honouring of a triple bottom line: people, planet, profit.
  • The term "corporate social responsibility" came in to common use in the late 1960s and early 1970s, after many multinational corporations formed. The term stakeholder, meaning those on whom an organization's activities have an impact, was used to describe corporate owners beyond shareholders as a result of an influential, Strategic management: a stakeholder approach in 1984. Proponents argue that corporations make more long term profits by operating with a perspective, while critics argue that CSR distracts from the economic role of businesses. Others argue CSR is merely window-dressing, or an attempt to pre-empt the role of governments as a watchdog over powerful multinational corporations.
  • CSR is titled to aid an organization's mission as well as a guide to what the company stands for and will uphold to its consumers. Development business ethics is one of the forms of applied ethics that examines ethical principles and moral or ethical problems that can arise in a business environment. ISO 26000 is the recognized international standard for CSR. Public sector organizations (the United Nations for example) adhere to the triple bottom line (TBL). It is widely accepted that CSR adheres to similar principles but with no formal act of legislation. The UN has developed the Principles for Responsible Investment as guidelines for investing entities.


CRM & CSR Port (CCP)

Customer relationship management (or customer strategy) has been focused on customer needs for a long time, and listening to and responding well to customer needs certainly produces shared value for both company (in terms of profits, both long term and short term) and customer (in terms of getting what they really want/need). [Not all customer strategy businesses are value-driven, but when I talk about CRM below I'll be referring to those who value customers in a holistic way and not just as a means to corporate profit.] And corporate social responsibility (CSR) and/or business social impact aren’t new ideas either. These adjacent (but not congruent) concepts are inherent in what for me was the key sentence of the article: “Businesses acting as businesses, not as charitable donors, are the most powerful force for addressing the pressing issues we face.” In fact, many CSR bloggers are bristling at the implication that Porter’s term “shared value” is somehow different or better than the true aims of CSR: doing well by doing good, and that what’s good for society is good for business Is shared value just true CSR rebranded? After all, the article seems to advocate moving traditional CSR efforts from the periphery to the very strategic center of businesses. But at the same time, some one clarified in an online comment, “I would caution against the idea that creating shared value replaces past management thinking. Instead, it is additive. Let us not create a false dichotomy between shared value and the core economic principles of competition, but harness the connection.” This likely helped more company-centric practitioners breathe a sigh of relief – and helped clarify one deep difference between these three concepts.

Although customer strategy (CRM), corporate social responsibility, and shared value all pursue the creation of value through businesses acting as businesses, the difference seems to be in who defines value in the first place. In (value-driven) customer strategy, the customer defines the good and the valuable. In corporate social responsibility, the government and civil society define the good and the valuable. And according to the shared value perspective, the company defines the good and valuable, through its business proposition, strategy, and end results. They may get input from stakeholders and the community at large, but ultimately, if the business really is acting as a business, it will decide what creates value and what it will pursue – and its results will speak for themselves.

Should this bother us? Not necessarily. Seeing that a shared value perspective puts the company back in the driver’s seat of defining value may reassure some of its detractors. I still think all these terms and perspectives are trying to get at the same general result: creating long-term value for customers and for the world as a whole, and leveraging the competitive thrust of business to do good. But for shared value, CSR, and CRM practitioners to self-identify as pursuing the same end and begin pursuing specific results together (which will need to happen for a true business revolution), I don’t think it’s a matter of branding, or who owns what term, or even logistics per se. No one person came up with this idea, and the current concept of shared value depends greatly on similar-minded practitioners in earlier contexts (particularly customer strategy folks, in my opinion). For shared value, CSR, and customer strategy companies to collaborate meaningfully, we will have to bring this hidden philosophical issue to the forefront and openly debate it. Even if we all agree that we’re primarily seeking “results,” we need to pinpoint who defines value in the first place to even know what results we’re seeking.


Last Updated on Friday, 07 October 2011 21:52
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