In the past, CRM served a simple purpose inside your enterprise: It kept track of your customers, their addresses and their orders. Now, though, there's far more that comes under the CRM umbrella, from connecting with your customers through social media to being able to instantly transmit customer data to a call center agent when customers call in for help.
That's why it's a good idea to regularly take a close look at your CRM infrastructure: With all the new functionality available in CRM tools today, you need to determine if your existing system is still meeting the needs of your business and customers.
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But while your CRM applications and all of your data is critical, the real analysis has to start with the customer relationship strategy inside your enterprise, says Mary Wardley, an analyst with IDC. Without knowing what you want, where you've been and where you are going, it will to be hard to reach your goals, she says.
"One of my main tenets regarding CRM as a discipline is that you have to have a CRM strategy inside your organization, regardless of whether you even have CRM applications " Wardley says. "No matter what kind of company you are you, you must have a customer relationship management strategy because that is your customer service strategy."
With a CRM strategy in place, you can then bring CRM applications into the discussion to ensure that they support your strategy and help you meet corporate goals, from sales to revenue to market share.
One key to remember, according to Wardley, is that your go-to-market strategy changes and evolves frequently, sometimes daily, depending on your business and the competitive landscape. This always-changing data can help your enterprise ultimately make the right decisions about how your CRM systems are working and what needs to be updated, reworked or replaced.
Among the questions to ask:
-- Are there features or capabilities that users are clamoring for?
-- Is an upgrade enough to add those needed features?
-- Can you add modules to your existing CRM systems to expand your capabilities?
-- What's the correct strategy for your business?
-- Are there any must-have features today that weren't available when you originally deployed your system?
-- How can you decide if you should now integrate some of those new features?
The answers, Wardley says, will depend on your customers' and your business's needs as well as your long-term customer service strategy.
Remember that the changes you are contemplating don't mean that your CRM system has failed your enterprise, only that new features may raise your CRM strategy to the next level.
"It stands to reason that when you deployed a specific CRM application you chose the application that best supported your go-to-market strategy at that time," she says. "Today, in this business environment, CRM is different."
For instance, today's CRM systems address social media, which Wardley notes didn't exist 10 years ago, when most companies began implementing CRM systems.
So how do you know when your system needs a facelift and how do you determine if it's going to be a small or large operation?