Every success-driven business understands that customer is everything, hence the famous mantra “your satisfaction; our desire.” To drive the best customer experience or “customer satisfaction,” more companies are integrating Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions into their business processes.
But then, it’s not just about owning a CRM system, but more about implementing this system effectively! Having a CRM system without a proper implementation strategy is simply a waste of what could have been a productive effort. That’s why a CRM implementation roadmap is always necessary.
The question, however, is, what exactly is a CRM roadmap, and how do you build one for your business? Let’s find out.
What Is A CRM RoadMap?
A CRM roadmap is a blueprint for CRM implementation that aligns an organization’s business strategy with its CRM capabilities.
For a company to determine its CRM roadmap, it must start by understanding its business priorities, processes, and how each department works to meet customers’ expectations — and, most importantly, the positive results it expects from introducing a new CRM solution.
Companies may ask the three key questions to understand their operational processes better and develop a practical CRM roadmap:
- How do our sales teams, marketing teams, and service teams work together to gain insight into our customers?
- How do our teams communicate and work towards achieving a common goal?
- How can we tell what marketing, sales, product, or service offering we can introduce to satisfy customer needs and achieve a quality customer experience?
Having a clear roadmap gives you some form of clarity in implementing your CRM solutions. And without a well-defined CRM roadmap, your business strategy is baseless. Because you’ll end up investing in technology solutions, products, and services that neither genuinely reflect your business priorities nor improve your relationship with customers. Of course, for growth and innovation, no success-driven organization invests in solutions incompatible with their organization’s long-term goals.
Why Is CRM Roadmap Needed?
CRM projects are not only complicated but also financially demanding to implement effectively. Sadly, despite the implementation costs of CRM adoption, the failure rate of growing a business is close to 90% — if the reports in the Harvard Business Review are anything to go by.
But why the high failure rate?
Well, the simple reason the average CRM project fails to help companies increase revenue is that rather than utilize these CRM directly in the sales processes to boost sales, most companies use their CRM systems for inspection purposes — either to report on progress, provide visibility, improve the accuracy of forecasts, or predict project delivery dates and provide a range of other business intelligence.
While some of the aforementioned CRM capabilities are crucial for better CX, most sales managers and front-line professionals rarely find them useful, particularly in securing more business deals for their company.
This is where a CRM roadmap comes in! Out of the thousands of CRM solutions available on the CRM market — that may not fit your business priorities (to increase sales, for instance,) — a CRM roadmap helps you to select the very best that hits the closest mark for achieving your current and future business goals. In other words, a CRM roadmap reduces project failures by ensuring your CRM goals align with your business goals.
Among other benefits, choosing the right solution helps you save money on the physical CRM investment while also building a business environment where process automation, departmental alignment, and customer satisfaction naturally fit into your organization’s operations.
Besides, a CRM implementation roadmap lays the foundation for the preliminary functionality rollout, organizing future enhancements and added functionality to satisfy your business and customer needs. Of course, developing such strategic plans would ultimately maximize the ROI of your CRM investment.
CRM Implementation: How Do I Build A Roadmap For CRM?
In a CRM implementation project, your implementation partner can always assist you in handling the most advanced (and complicated) stages of the process.
However, the initial steps are on you and your team. After all, you understand the workings of your organization better than anyone. You know your struggles, strengths, and weaknesses. Hence, you are better positioned to determine how your chosen CRM should help you overcome your struggles, improve your weaknesses, and reinforce your strengths.
Now, the critical question is, what are these preliminary and advanced steps to be taken with the assistance of your team and implementation partner to build a successful CRM roadmap?
1. Get The Support (Buy-In) Of Every Stakeholder
First things first, before thinking of implementing a comprehensive CRM roadmap, it’s essential to gain buy-in from the managers, team heads, department heads, and other stakeholders of your organization. The reason is that the long-term success of your CRM project depends on the influence and support of the senior management team.
Human beings are naturally wired to resist change. That’s why any new tool that alters your business culture, structure, and processes will most likely be met with strong resistance from your team members.
But that won’t be the case if the top management team leads by example in implementing the new CRM project. Others will surely follow suit.
2. Gather Information On Key Issues
Involving the stakeholders shouldn’t only be in words but also in action. Creating a successful CRM road map requires gathering enough information about your organization’s pain points. And such information should come from the company’s stakeholders, including the decision-makers and team members.
The best way to gain the needed insights into the key issues that need to be addressed by the new CRM is by holding one-on-one meetings using the “interview template.” This template comprises key questions that will uncover the organization’s pain points.
An example of the questions in the interview template is, “What information would you like to have about your customers that you currently do not?” Getting an answer to this question, for instance, will give you an idea of what kind of customer information to target with your CRM system, either to improve CX or enhance sales.
While interviewing decision-makers, team leaders, and team members, don’t forget to do the same to the front-line workers who interact directly with your customers. Nobody knows your customers better than they do. So you can trust that their input would be vital in improving customer satisfaction.
3. Find Your CRM Implementation Partner
Once you’ve gathered enough information, having held a series of stakeholder meetings and consultations, you may now proceed to get yourself a partner who would help you to implement the most rigorous phases of the CRM roadmap.
When choosing an implementation partner, ensure they specialize in the specific requirements you want to integrate into your system.
Also, create some selection criteria with which you would analyze the proposals to come up with the best possible partner. Then set up a meeting with 2 or 3 suppliers with the most agreeable proposal and find out what they’ve got to offer based on their propositions.
4. Identify The Gap Between Your Current State And Your Desired State
It’s noteworthy that at this stage, your partner (in the CRM implementation) will assist you in running the necessary checks to ensure you are right on track.
Of course, the series of one-on-one meetings you have been holding with your team to identify the key issues will help you and your partner to figure out your current CRM capabilities, discover the gaps, and the possible ways to fill those gaps — while paying close attention to the future aspirations of your company.
In other words, the results of these meetings will help you and your partner to determine how close your company is to achieving or exceeding customer expectations. And also, indicate the gaps between your current CRM state and the state you desire for the future.
5. Identify Value Opportunities
Being customer-centric comes with lots of benefits. Value opportunities represent those potential benefits your company gets to enjoy when it is more customer-driven.
You can always work with your partner to identify and categorize your value opportunities (in terms of people, process, and technology) by analyzing the gaps between the company’s current state and its desired future state. Once you’ve identified your value opportunities, the next step is to ensure the executive team prioritizes the opportunities.
A good example of a “PROCESS” value opportunity is enhancing data collection for all customer contacts across the entire sales touchpoints (e.g., phone, e-mail, etc.). “PEOPLE” value opportunities, on the other hand, may include additional training on service protocols for customer data collection. And “TECHNOLOGY” value opportunity is to create a data warehouse.
6. Link Value Opportunities to strategic CRM Capabilities
After identifying your value opportunities, the next line of action is to link each opportunity to the corresponding CRM capabilities.
To better understand this particular phase, look at the case study below:
A Case Study Of THE Link Between A Value Opportunity And Its Corresponding Strategic CRM Capabilities:
Enhance customer understanding
Strategic CRM Capability:
- Have a good knowledge of the customer
- Make the most of customer data from the service processes.
- Understand the profitability of customers and cost-to-serve.
7. Define CRM Projects And CRM Requirements
At this stage, you already have a clue about the project at hand and its functional requirements. But you still need to brainstorm with your partner to define and execute new CRM projects. This will ensure your company completely understand the relevant strategic CRM capabilities.
Here are some benefits of holding such brainstorming sessions:
- A better understanding of the customer profitability
- Improved sales team training
- Building a data warehouse.
After defining the new CRM project, the next important step is to identify the business and technical requirements for the project. At this point, you must be specific and address the necessary people, processes, and technology components.
8. Set Up A Business Case
It’s one thing to define a project and its requirements but a different story entirely to support or refute the criticality of a specific project.
That’s why it’s crucial to develop a business case that seeks to explain the dollar investment needed and the ROI that will be realized throughout the investment duration, which usually lasts between three to five years.
9. Develop A Rollout Strategy
Last but not least is to develop a rollout strategy that will enable your organization to focus its time and resources on the most critical projects.
Of course, the “most important” projects are the ones that will help your sales team, service team, and the entire system and process to become more customer-driven.
Key Factors To Consider To Develop A CRM Roadmap Successfully
To successfully develop a CRM Roadmap, several critical factors must be kept in mind:
- Ensure to have buy-in from the management (which includes the entire stakeholders)
- A reliable sponsor is crucial.
- The need for an implementation partner can not be overemphasized.
- You should have a strong leader who can organize constructive and productive brainstorming sessions throughout the new CRM implementation phases.
- Always pay attention to customer needs.
- Collect and consider feedback from all concerned internal and external parties (especially customers).
- Communication is key in executing any CRM roadmap project.
- Review the entire process regularly to ascertain if anything needs to be changed
Running a successful business starts with satisfying your customer, especially when it comes to meeting their peculiar needs and expectations. Well, this is almost impossible without a well-implemented CRM roadmap.
The good news is that building a successful roadmap is NOT a one-off process: it is a continuous process of constant revisions and modifications to meet the ever-changing demands of customers. So you are not pressured to be utterly successful on your first execution.
Nonetheless, the roadmap presented on this page will go a long way to help you build deeper relationships with your customers and also give you the competitive advantage you need to excel in your niche.