Avoiding CRM software remorse

Customer Relationship Management software is a waste of time if you attempt a technology lift and shift, or barrel ahead without staff buy-in, writes Brooke Integration Lead Richard Neeson.

A recent Gartner study highlighted that Australian companies are investing more heavily in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technology than their international peers, spending $2.3 billion on CRM software last year.

Does this mean that Australians can expect to soon be immersed in world-leading customer experiences? Sadly, many customers’ experiences, and marketing teams’ KPIs, suggest not.

Gartner found that companies rarely achieve the level of implementation and utilisation of their CRM platforms required to see a return on their investment.

So why is this?

Brooke Head of Digital Transformation Bruce McGregor said companies often budgeted for the expense of the technology, without understanding the vital importance of shaping the system to the needs of their business and importantly their staff – those who will be using the software on a daily basis. Furthermore, they failed to consider a pivotal question: how the organisation itself may need to change to achieve its customer experience vision.

“Organisations take on huge tech transformation without putting in this groundwork and as a result often wind up back where they started,” Mr McGregor said.

“The day after implementation they are sending out the same emails, to the same lists, with the same results. The only difference is that they are using the equivalent of an Airbus A380 to do a pigeon’s job.”

Thankfully things are starting to change.

Gartner have observed a shift by companies towards understanding the people requirements, engagement and degrees of change needed to capitalise on the opportunities offered by CRM software.

Gartner VP analyst Olive Huang told the Australian Financial Review that “more attention is being paid to what companies need to do across organisations in collaboration, organisational structures and staff engagement first, rather than just buying a ‘tech stack’ and plugging it in.”

Brooke specialises in sustainable implementations that transform mindsets, behaviours, capabilities and technologies.

Mr McGregor said: “Organisations need to clearly define how they want to interact with customers in the future and identify the all the essential change factors that will allow them to get there. The human dimension always makes or breaks these transformations which is why we have an outcome focussed approach to everything we do.”

Four essential considerations for all organisations wanting a successful CRM implementation are:

• Clearly define the required organisational and customer outcomes. The most common mistake is to just do a technology “lift and shift” and assume that the new technology will take care of all the shortcomings in your current process. All that will do is help generate mistakes faster.
• Ensure that a high level of executive buy-in (sponsorship) is in place. That will be essential when tough decisions need to be made, or the project gets into a sticky situation and requires leadership support to get back on track.
• Clearly define what you want your staff (internal customers) to achieve in the new state and understand the capability uplift needed to get them there.
• Deeply understand the level of change management you will need to wrap around your CRM transformation. This will ensure that you have the level of engagement required to inform the CRM and overarching systems design.


“Australia outstrips global spend on martech, customer experience,” Australian Financial Review, 20.06.2019