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Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is about process efficiency, reducing operational costs, and improving customer interactions and experience. The never-ending CRM journey could be beautiful and exciting, and it’s something that matters to all the stakeholders in a company. One important saying is that CRM matters to all roles in a company and everyone needs to feel the sense of ownership right from the beginning of the journey.

In this article we will look at 3 main pillars for effective customer relationship management.

This article is an excerpt taken from the book The Art of CRM, written by Max Fatouretchi. Max, founder of Academy4CRM institute, draws on his experience over 20 years and 200 CRM implementations worldwide.The book covers modern CRM opportunities and challenges based on the author’s years of experience including AI, machine learning, cloud hosting, and GDPR compliance.

Three key pillars of CRM

The main role of the architect is to design a solution that can not only satisfy the needs and requirements of all the different business users but at the same time have the agility and structure for a good foundation to support future applications and extensions. Having understood the drivers and the requirements, you are ready to establish the critical quality properties the system will have to exhibit in order to identify scenarios to characterize each one of them. The output of the process is a tree of attributes, a so-called quality attribute tree including usability, availability, performance, and evolution.

You always need to consider that the CRM rollout in the company will affect everyone, and above all, it needs to support the business strategies while improving operational efficiencies, enabling business orchestration, and improving customer experience over all the channels. Technically speaking, there are three main pillars for any CRM implementation; these enable value to the business:

Operational CRM

The operational CRM is all about marketing, sales, and services functionalities. We will cover some case studies later in this book from different projects I’ve personally engaged with across a wide area of applications.

Analytical CRM

The analytical CRM will use the data “collected” from the operational CRM and provide the users and business leaders with individual KPIs, dashboards, and analytical tools in order to enable them to slice and dice the data about their business performance as they need. This foundation is for the business orchestration.

Collaboration CRM

The collaboration CRM will provide the technology to integrate all kinds of communication channels and front-ends with core CRM for both internal and external users, for employees, partners, and for customers so-called bring your own device. This includes support for different types of devices that could integrate with the CRM core platform and be administered with the same tools, leverage the same infrastructure including security, and maintenance. It’s using the same platform, same authentication procedures, same workflow engine and fully leveraging the core entities and data.

With these three pillars in place, you’ll be able to create a comprehensive view of your business and manage client’s communication over all your channels. Through this, you’ll have the ingredients for predictive client insights, business intelligence, marketing, sales, and services automation.

But before we move on, Figure 1.1 is an illustration of the three pillars of a CRM solution and related modules, which should help you visualize what we’ve just talked about:

Pillars of CRM

Figure 1.1: The three pillars of CRM

It’s also important to remember that any CRM journey always begins with either a business strategy and/or a business pain-point. All of the stakeholders must have a clear understanding of where the company is heading to, and what the business drivers for the CRM investment are. It’s also important for all CRM team members to remember that the potential success or failure of CRM projects remains primarily on business stakeholders and not on the IT staff.

Role-based ownership in CRM

Typically, the business decision makers are the ones bringing up the need and sponsoring the CRM solution. Often but not always, the IT department is tasked with the selection of the platform and conducting the due diligence with a number of vendors. More importantly, while different business users may have different roles and expectations from the system, everyone needs to have a common understanding of the company’s vision, while the team members need to support the same business strategies at the highest level. The team will work together towards the success of the project for the company as a whole while having individual expectations.

In addition to that, you will notice that the focus and the level of engagement of people involved in the project (project team) will vary during the lifecycle of the project as time goes on. It also helps to categorize the characteristics of team members from visionary to leadership, stakeholders, and owners. While key sponsors are more visionary, and usually, the first players to actively support and advocate for a CRM strategy, they will define the tactics, and end users will ultimately take more ownership during the deployment and operation phase.

In the Figure 1.2 we see the engagement level of stakeholders, key-users, and end-users in a CRM implementation project. The visionaries are here to set the company’s vision and strategies for the CRM, the key users (department leads) are the key-sponsors who promote the solution, and the end-users are to engage in reviews and provide feedback.

CRM role based ownership

Figure 1.2: CRM role based ownership

Before we start the development, we must have identified the stakeholders, and have a crystal-clear vision of the functional requirements based on the business requirements. Furthermore, we must also ensure we have converted these to a detail specification. All this is done by business analysts, project managers, solution specialists, and architects, with the level of IT engagement being driven by the outcome of this process.

This will also help to define your metrics for business Key Performance Indicators (KPI) figures and for TCO/ROI (Total-Cost-of-Ownership and Return-on-Investment) of the project. These metrics are a compass and a measurement tool for the success of your CRM project and will help enable your need to justify your investment but also allow you to measure the improvements you’ve made. You will also use these metrics as a design guide for an efficient solution that not only provides the functionalities supporting the business requirements and justification of your investment but something that also delivers data for your CRM dashboards. This data can then help fine tune the business processes for higher efficiencies going forward.

In this article, we’ve looked at all the important elements of a CRM system, including operational CRM, analytical CRM, and collaboration CRM. Bringing CRM up to date, The Art of CRM shows how to add AI and machine learning, ensure compliance with GDPR, and choose between on-premise, cloud, and hybrid hosting solutions.

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