Some invaluable research from Nucleus has pointed out that CRM customers are missing out on 80% of the potential benefits. While some of these figures appear to be ‘plucked out of the air’, there is a large element of truth about them. Nucleus picked out several key areas across with organisations could find greater ROI, but underlying that is one crucial factor: management.

Before we get to management, let’s look further at what Nucleus have highlighted, and the potential impact for any business running CRM.

Collaboration

The truth of many organisations, despite their best intentions, is that they operate in silos. Marketing, Sales, Customer Support often end up divided if not geographically, then figuratively. They operate in different spaces of the CRM, independently of each other, unaware of the data they share and of the power they share.

And this is cultural. There is a stereotypical distrust between marketing and sales, while customer support hover in the background, holding invaluable data that both marketing and sales should be acting upon each and every day. This cultural background is what needs breaking down. The example in the infographic below highlights the potential for one single tool to create ROI through improved productivity.

A near 12% increase in sales productivity thanks to one tool (Chatterbox) indicates that simple tools are enough to break down historic cultural barriers and increase productivity. If anything, the approach we need to take is almost risk-free – we’re asking employees to apply their day-to-day behaviour (social media, interaction) to the workplace. Traditionally, workplaces have been slow to adapt social networking. We now have the proof that they need to move on. There are plenty of alternatives – MS Dynamics has bought Yammer, and Salesforce brought in Chatterbox. There’s more to come.

Extension

The idea of siloed information is carried over into the area of Extension, but it’s the application of that information beyond the three main groups of CRM users that can bring significant benefits.

It’s one thing to have great tools, such as Adobe’s Echosign, for internal sign-off. Now it’s integrated into Dynamics CRM for one, its extension out into the universe of suppliers and partners is a must. This brings CRM into the world of billing and invoicing, and applies those time-saving tools that we use internally into the wider business.

ROI can be obtained not just through saving time and integrating into the overall customer view (which according to MS Dynamics partner, Preact, is one of the main selling points for the integration of Adobe Echosign), but through reduction of the number of applications being used. Many organisations are using independent applications, which could not only cause conflict, but could be costing the business.

Integration

As CRM vendors have traditionally harked on about greater integration, it’s a surprise that CRM owners aren’t integrating as well as they could be. The research shows potential benefit for integrating front and back office applications, but perhaps the most significant aspect is within desktop applications

The many interactions between employees and customers can take place in many places – by e-mail, by social media, over Skype – or through documents such as Word with mark-up comments. Organisations are simply not bringing these interactions into one single place, or at least, they’re not making it easy for themselves. Far too many rely on people jumping through hoops in order to get these interactions into the CRM.

It should be seamless – it should be automatically integrated, so that a 360-degree view of the customer includes not only the traditional contact and product purchase data, but interaction data from e-mails and social media.

But underpinning everything, management & leadership

What underpins every attempt at achieving ROI from CRM implementations is management & leadership. While Nucleus define management as a ‘sales management’ problem, I see it as having an overarching view of the value CRM is bringing. Rather than allowing each silo to cast itself off and hold data & applications for itself, it’s about having someone with that single vision of delivering ROI.

It’s about having a distinct voice, whether that be a steering committee or one individual.

Find that distinct voice, that overarching ambition of finding benefits from your CRM implementation, and you’ll go a long way.

This infographic, courtesy of MS Dynamics CRM partner, Preact, underlines the key areas where businesses can get more return on their CRM implementation.