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Get Ready


Discussing change management along with CRM has become pretty commonplace. Back in the 90’s I had trouble getting an audience when attempting to explain the need for managing changes within CRM programs. While I feel some vindication with the amount of press that the convergence of these two topics gets today in the technology media, I feel there are still some misconceptions.

One of the difficulties is that the term change management is now offered up too easily, as any buzz word. This causes program managers and CRM stakeholders to become careless with what it means and what it requires. Plus, it has taken on meaning in some circles as synonymous with down sizing or with business transformation. So, there is confusion out there.

I like to begin the process of clarification by asking the question, is your CRM program being put in place to keep the lights on or are you out to change the business? The answer is going to be somewhere on a continuum. At the one end is an organization embarking on CRM by bringing in call center automation in an effort to assist the service agents to better keep up with demand. At the other end of the continuum is the organization that develops a customer segmentation model utilizing newly implemented analytics software. This program will change everything from how the company thinks about its customers all the way to how a customer is treated during every touchpoint.

If your program is going to look more like the latter than the former you need to be ready for change. If you need to transform the business to get the results you are seeking from your CRM program, then you also need to put the correct effort into it. Most programs are good at providing the tools needed for making the business changes. However, transformation requires more – changing the strategy, leadership, policy, roles, rewards, processes, competencies, and possibly even the organizational culture. These all need to be planned and managed as much as the implementation of the tools.

Business transformation is hard to do, mostly because it requires making changes to all the factors above, plus dealing with the resistance to the changes. But the number one cause of business transformation failure is due to programs starting without sufficient clarity and alignment regarding the expected end state. So, when answering the question, “are you ready?” it is best to start with asking whether the program objectives are clear and agreed to. Where are you on the continuum – just run the business or actually change it? Once you have this truly settled you can plan effectively for the rest of the program.

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