All of these caveats bring us to Rule 2. If you try to change the whole way of doing business on an enterprise-wide basis, quick wins are unlikely to happen. Any big-bang approach causes masses of change requests and your framework will not be strong enough to cope at the start. Projects of a large scale all too often become long drawn-out affairs with no real results until near the end. Quick wins will keep the project alive and funded. Limit your pilot to a controllable area of the business while looking ahead to the bigger projects that can make use of what you’ve learned. This was the principle involved in the BancoRio example in Chapter 15, where the six-stage CMR project was tested in just three of the bank’s 267 branches before enterprise-wide rollout.
Starting with projects that address narrow business goals and produce high impact will begin to create the structure that will serve as the foundation of broader projects. At the start the most important goal is to prove the concept and to get everyone within the company to believe in the project. These beginning stages should be carried out in the most cost-effective manner.
There will be pressures to add on to the starting projects. Even after you have prioritized projects based on their impact on customer perception and their income revenue potential, others within the company will press for their own personal agendas. Tom Kaneshige, a senior editor at e-business magazine Line56, explains:
A project often starts out filling a specific need. But CRM means many things to many people, thanks to its wide-ranging functionality and cross-enterprising nature. It’s not unusual for a highly placed executive to catch wind of the project and become star-struck at the vast potential it represents, creating conditions in which a stream of add-ons results in an initiative that is over ambitious. Potentially even more problematic is that CRM touches customers, so even minor hiccups can damage key relationships, and major problems can have lasting negative implications.
We’ve seen this happen all too often, and it will be even truer for CMR, where we are asking the customer to get more involved. Pressures will come from outside your company as well. It’s easy to be led astray by vendors and system integrators. Vendors will often press for the installation of functions you haven’t asked for. Make sure that you get what you want without any unnecessary extras. If you find you need other features later, you can have them added then.
Start with simple prototypes that demonstrate the business case for CMR and quickly deliver measurable business value to your CMR stakeholders. When Verizon started into CRM they chose limited projects to pilot in small regions. Maura Breen, senior vice president and CMO of Verizon’s Retail Markets Group, had this to say at a Conference Board session on strategic management:
An important question we had to answer was how to size CRM for a $22 billion business with 25 million customers without boiling the ocean. We’re taking a phased approach, defining manageable projects in specific geographies that can be measured for ROI, and then using the learning to expand the effort. The first phase creates an experience for high value customers in the call center, our most heavily trafficked channel. We’re looking at how to make it easier to provide more of Verizon’s products and services on one call to customers who need them.
While Verizon is concentrating more on efficient cross-sell rather than on turning the management of the relationship over to the customer, the lesson is clear: Start with a limited customer group (high value customers), a single business process (the call center), and a limited area (specific geographies), all selected so that they can be measured for ROI.
At this pilot stage, it is important to be sure that your efforts complement the long-range plans of the program. Elements that are beyond the scope of the early pilot should not be addressed, but they should be identified and prioritized for later inclusion in the initiative.
Joseph Colletti, executive vice president of consulting services at CRM firm ANALYTICi, explains this need for forethought with an analogy. “If you are building a car and you know that one eventual goal is to use the car to tow a boat, you should understand the ramifications of that up front. You will want to make sure the blueprint of the car takes into account this long term need.”
What he means is that you don’t have to attach the trailer hitch yet, but you do have to be sure that the engine size and suspension of the car will support the longer-term objective. This kind of planning will assure that the incremental learning from the pilots will deliver everything you need when rolled out across the enterprise. In the pilot you may be able to work only with customer information from the transaction database. It may be that customer interactions from the Web or from the call center will not be added until later, but you will want to prioritize these for later inclusion and be certain, at the start, that the systems and processes in the test will be robust enough to deliver your later needs.
Tom Kaneshige, “Surviving CRM,” line56.com, November 2, 2002, p. 2.
Jacqueline Allen, “Talking CRM Shop with Industry Execs,” INSIDE 1to1, February 16, 2002, pp. 3–4.
Joseph Colletti, “A Crawl, Walk, Run Approach to CRM,” DM News, December 10, 2001, pp. 26, 30.