How to Avoid Getting Burned with Your CRM Project
How to Avoid Getting Burned with Your CRM Project
No time to burn
One of the biggest challenges facing us all these days in our personal and professional lives is determining authenticity.
We all see and receive offers that sometimes seem too good to be true. Is that Nigerian Prince really waiting on our $2,500 bank transfer to free up millions that he will share with us?
Every one of us sees customers becoming more demanding, more sophisticated, more knowledgeable.
Hard to say. (Pro-tip: no)
Putting aside the extreme conditions like our Nigerian Prince, it’s still a valid point.
Is the person I’m talking to a real person? Are they sincere?
Will they deliver on their promises? Will I benefit from hiring them?
Will I regret my choice?
In the end, each of us needs to decide what makes sense for our personal and business choices. But how do we make those decisions?
Place your bets!
In some cases, we bet on the big, known names. The brands that we can be confident in supporting. That’s usually (although not always) a safe bet.
There used to be a famous adage “nobody ever got fired betting on IBM.”
That was the safe bet. And … it was true until it wasn’t.
It’s not that IBM changed but the world changed and IBM didn’t quite keep up with the new customer needs.
That’s always the risk that we take. Will this company meet their commitments and serve our needs? Do they understand where we are going? Will they adjust and help us adjust to where we need to be?
Time isn’t on your side
When it comes to CRM implementations, it’s a stark reality that there are more things that can go wrong – completely wiping away a business’ investment – than there are things that can go right.
Depending on which research company you rely on, 40 to 70 percent of CRM projects end up as failures. Businesses invest their time and money and, within 12 to 18 months, they have shelved their investment.That money is lost. Up in smoke. Poof.
In my opinion, it’s not even the money that’s the tragedy – it’s the loss of time. Calendar time.
Every month that marches on, every one of us sees customers becoming more demanding, more sophisticated, more knowledgeable. A properly implemented CRM allows us to meet those needs and deliver consistent, high quality experiences for our prospect, customers, suppliers, and fellow employees.
With a failed project, we have lost that time. We have sacrificed a calendar year that we could have used to improve our situation. Improve our responsiveness. Improve the quality of our customer experiences.
That time lost is irrecoverable.
The customer isn’t always right
It’s an ugly truth with CRM projects and it keeps happening. Every day business are calling it quits on their CRM investment because things have gone wrong and no one is using the software.
I personally talk to a dozen + people each month who have gone through it.
I will chalk it up charitably to a sincere desire on well-meaning consulting firms who listen to customer needs and give them what they want. This often leads to big, expensive, mission critical projects with lots of consulting dollars and huge stakes. Because, hey! the customer is asking for this. They want everything and the kitchen sink so we are just giving them what they want.
I have to say: I’m not a fan of this approach.
Certainly, if you need, like many businesses today, to be more effective and efficient in serving customers, CRM is a great foundation for you.
When implemented correctly, it will enable amazing efficiency and streamline your operations. It will allow you to deliver consistently high quality experiences to your prospect and customers which, speaking frankly, is what we all demand as customers these days or we will find someone who can deliver on those expectations.
The problem with those big bang approaches is that the stakes are too high and they discount the most important element of CRM implementations – the adjustment period. The time it takes people to build new habits around using the tool to do their job.
Worse, most CRM projects are implemented with a focus on management needs. The focus is “how can we monitor and track our sales people and their activity effectively?”
To be of use
Of course, a well-implemented CRM will do those things. The trick is that it will only do those things if your team is using the software. To get that adoption, the focus should be on making it useful, making it simple, and making it easy for the team to adopt.
The question shouldn’t be “what does our management team want?” That’s easy. Pretty simple to figure out. All management teams want the same things.
The question should be “how do we set up CRM to make the lives of our people easier? How do we make them look at CRM as their best friend?” If you accomplish that, your management goals will be met as a natural result of the front-line team adopting the software.
It’s all about keeping proper focus.
What is your goal with CRM? What are you trying to accomplish? What are those goals?
Then break it down to how do you get there? How do you transform your business from where it is to where you know you need to be to properly serve your customers?
And, going back to the original question, how do you know if you are being led down the primrose path – the path that looks good but will lead to the horrible loss of your investment?
I can’t answer the question for everyone. And maybe it really can’t ever be answered properly if we assume others always have good intentions and they have sincere desire to do the right by us.
The Azamba way
At our company, we like to take it one step further beyond the simple desire to do the right thing. One of the fundamental things we do differently over here at Azamba is we offer a 100% Money-Back Guarantee on our services.
I talk to a lot of consultants who think this is crazy. The fear is that a customer will use us and take advantage of the guarantee to get free services.
Some unscrupulous customer will have us successfully implement CRM and then turn around and invoke the Money-Back Guarantee clause in some sort of ironic twist where the customer scams the service provider!
That could be a great Hollywood film. [I assume Brad Pitt or possibly George Clooney would play me in that film. I would settle for Matt Damon. (But not Ben Affleck.)]
That might happen, but…it hasn’t happened to us yet. We have offered this guarantee since 2014 and we have never seen a customer use it to take advantage of us.
Most businesses want results and they are willing to pay a fair price for it. If we take care of them, they will pay for those results. Yes, we open ourselves up to being scammed in return, but I just haven’t seen it yet.
What we have seen is:
Customers know that we aren’t just moving our lips when we talk about customer-focus. We are sincerely dedicated to our customers. If we don’t hit the mark, we put our money where our mouths are and we provide a refund. We’re not perfect. But we strive to be.
We are focused on working with customers that we feel we can sincerely help. We can’t help everyone. We aren’t the perfect firm for everyone. That’s ok. If you are looking for CRM and we think you fit our sweet spot, let’s make the magic happen. If not, we can recommend some folks who might be better suited for you. It’s that simple.
The path forward
I’m a weird person. I’m both very trusting and also very skeptical. I understand what a huge risk there is with moving forward on business investments – particularly with a CRM implementation.
If things go well with CRM, you can literally transform your business into a lean, mean, optimized, profitable, customer-serving machine.
If things go wrong, you have lost your investment and worse – much, much worse – you have lost your irrecoverable time to getting to where you need to be.
For us, the path is clear. We will continue to stand behind our services and offer our Money-Back Guarantee.
If you are interested in CRM and want to know more about this, give me a call.
If you are a services provider and think we are nuts for doing this, give me a call. I’m always happy to share our philosophy on customer focus and why we feel the Money-Back Guarantee is the right approach for our customers, and ultimately for us.
Feedback is welcome – tell me why we are foolish and risky for offering this guarantee in the comments. I’ve heard a lot of feedback over the years so don’t hold back.
I will say up-front that it’s unlikely anyone can convince me that 100% commitment to customer success is the wrong move, although I do know there are many valid concerns about implementing this approach. We have debated them all internally and I am happy to share our views and experiences.
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Peter Wolf is the president and founder of Azamba. He has spent the last 18 years focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses become more profitable through effective and efficient usage of CRM.
His passion is blending the promise of CRM with the realities of business needs to create successful outcomes.