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Customer Relationship Management in the age of acceleration

Katherine Kostereva, CEO and Managing Partner at bpm’online, has been helping businesses transform and better engage with customers.

Here, Katherine Kostereva, who has been leading bpm’online for more than 15 years, reveals how to do Customer Relationship Management (CRM) right today.

Katherine strongly believes that to thrive amidst continuous innovation and disruption in our ever-accelerating world, businesses need to constantly adapt and transform. “CRM technology today should help organizations align data, processes, and teams enabling them to better connect with digital customers and rapidly adapt.”

4 key capabilities Katherine Kostereva sees as critical to deploy CRM fast and transform even faster

Accelerate CRM Implementation

A properly implemented CRM system can quickly help the entire company at every level. On the contrary, when CRM takes years to implement, businesses waste valuable time and resources on a system that will be outdated by the time it’s ready for adoption. That’s why organizations must be able to leverage all the benefits of a modern CRM system when they need it.

To avoid being held hostage by a long, painful, and expensive CRM implementation, organizations need to find shortcuts—out-of-the-box solutions, integrations, and processes—that accelerate implementation and integration.

Accelerate Adoption

Katherine Kostereva notes that poor CRM adoption is one of the top reasons companies fail to maximize the value of CRM. While helpful, it is not as simple as an appealing UI. Katherine’s recommendation is to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and always automate the CRM processes. In this manner, marketing, sales, and service reps are focused on engaging customers, not remembering where to track down certain data or what to do—the system can and should do that for them. The more the workflow can be automated and guide users to the next best action for each customer, the more users will not just adopt but love the CRM system. “It is often the weakest part of the CRM implementation, but the most crucial,” Katherine Kostereva says.

Accelerate Alignment

According to a report by Marketing Profs, companies that aligned sales and marketing generated 208% more revenue from their marketing efforts. However, few organizations can claim they have perfect alignment between marketing, sales, and service. Data sets are different, there is typically limited visibility across organizational silos, and no one has more technology than marketing. Organizations today have a better opportunity than their predecessors to solve this and drive better organizational alignment with  a more cohesive CRM strategy. In addition to cross-functional benefits, it can also create a better understanding of the initiatives that have long-term benefits and measure the return against metrics such as customer lifetime value, rather than just leads and conversions.

No one has a data creation problem, but most have an insight problem. Aligning customer data across teams prevents clogs and blind spots in the customer’s journey, allowing for a better experience from lead-to-loyalty. Simply removing siloes can have a dramatic impact. According to an Aberdeen Group study, highly aligned organizations achieved an average of 32% year-over-year revenue growth, while their less aligned competitors saw a 7% decrease. A modern CRM strategy should equally focus on aligning customer-facing teams and customer data.

Accelerate Change

Too often companies rely on the technology to define best practices. Katherine Kostereva states, “No technology knows your business better than you.” But there is a belief by many companies that they have been left behind and that their practices aren’t as good as the defaults of most CRM systems, which just isn’t true. Katherine Kostereva emphasizes that “companies should spend the time to figure out what experience they want to deliver to their customers and then make sure the technology can map it out by offering flexibility to adjust your processes at will.” There is nothing worse than investing the time and money to deploy CRM, only to find out six months later that it cannot adapt to your desired processes.

It goes without saying that an initial CRM demo, highlighting core use cases, will be appealing. When choosing a CRM system, it is important to consider what will happen 12 months after the implementation. Katherine Kostereva recommends that all savvy CRM professionals should seek the answers to the following questions: How easy will it be to adapt the system to newly devised processes? How will changing the layout of the interface pan out? How will a new process be added to a workflow? Katherine Kostereva stresses “it is imperative that company processes and documented workflows are able to change at will, depending solely on internal resources, rather than having to find and hire a consulting firm to make basic changes.” Many systems can be designed to do what a company wants, but how many will enable your team to be as agile as needed?

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