Public Sector CRM Strategy
Public sector CRM strategy must be aligned to the organization's purpose in order to realize a sustained achievement of CRM objectives and successful customer relationships. While CRM strategies differ among implementers, the most successful strategies have several criteria in common.
- Alignment between the organization's mission and the CRM strategy; a good strategy is a direct reflection of the mission and supports the mission in direct, clear and easy to understand terms.
- Strategies must be customer focused; they speak to the positioning and evolvement of the customer relationship.
- CRM strategies require executive sponsorship and complete buy in; the rank and file take their queues from the executive team so the executives must visibly, vocally and actively sponsor the CRM strategy for it to be successful.
- Strategies are an iterative process; as the the organization evolves so to will the CRM strategy.
CRM strategies merge and are realized from fulfillment of CRM Objectives. It's critical that objectives are tangible, measurable and directly support the strategy. Several common government CRM objectives include the following:
- Consolidated customer view. The achievement of a single, agency-wide intelligent view of the customer relationship delivers one real-time version of the truth, eliminates duplicate data entry, reduces systems integration complexity and empowers staff with up to date knowledge and actionable customer insight.
- Shared customer information. Citizens, constituents and internal customers call on multiple resources through multiple channels. It's critical that any and all resources called upon share the same information in order to speak with consistency and a common voice. Shared customer data ensures that each customer interaction is handled with the same degree of care while referencing the same information across all departments, geographies and channels.
- Systemic and proven processes. The adoption of CRM software facilitates consistent processes, process improvements and best practices among all staff who leverage the CRM software to become more efficient.
If crafting successful CRM strategies and objectives were either simple or straightforward, the CRM implementation failure rate would not be deplorably high (over 50 percent according to Gartner). Here's a few tips to stimulate your thinking as well as a few traps to avoid.
- Don't consider CRM to be a project. There is no end. CRM is a continuous journey and those organizations that are most successful constantly assess, learn, make improvements and then assess again.
- Don't think of beginning a CRM software selection or implementation project before you've acquired active and visible executive sponsorship. Missing, inactive or inadequate executive sponsorship is a recipe for CRM failure.
- Make sure you take the time to truly discover, evaluate and vision your business processes before you commit to a CRM strategy or begin looking at CRM software. Failure to thoroughly understand your organizational framework and processes will likely derail a meaningful strategy or result in a poor software selection decision.
- CRM implementations are routinely challenged by user adoption. To mitigate this risk, use a cross representative team to ensure that all departments and key user communities are fairly represented.
- When evaluating CRM software, agree on the decision making criteria based upon your most strategic business objectives. Don't sway your criteria based upon vendor meetings and things you didn't know existed before the software demonstrations.
- Don't skip the Request For Proposal (RFP) document and procedure. The process of gathering, documenting, prioritizing and comparing essential requirements to manufacturer CRM software systems will dramatically improve your CRM implementation project. There is a clear negative correlation between organizations that do not perform a detailed and weighted RFP and organizations that realize CRM failures.
- When you do get to the CRM software demonstrations, avoid the canned software shows and instead insist that vendors demonstrate features and capabilities that are most important to your agency and operations. Make sure to use demonstration scripts so that each vendor aligns their software with your highest impact objectives and so that the vendor solutions can be fairly compared is a side by side fashion. Also be certain that your demonstration requirements are detailed, specific, measurable and scored.
- Refrain from multiple vendor software solutions if at all possible. Dealing with multiple vendor software products, and more so with their different user interfaces, release schedules, contracts, invoices and technical support groups never works well. Further, the required systems integration time and costs among multi-vendor solutions introduces significant risk and a dramatic increase in the total cost of ownership (TCO). Be wary of allegedly integrated software products; the actual integration seldom matches the marketing brochure.
Be forewarned that CRM strategy and CRM software are neither a panacea nor pitfall on their own accord. However, if well planned and successfully implemented they are an extraordinarily valuable management discipline and productivity automation tool capable of far reaching advancements and direct contribution of an agency's mission.