The cost of CRM technology is falling and the flow of consumer data is expanding. Add to that the escalation in platforms to reach people – from mobile, social media and apps such as Snapchat to more unexpected places like screens in driverless cars – and you can see why brands are excited at the opportunities for engaging more and more with consumers through CRM. Or are they?

The flip side to this explosion in opportunities is that many companies are feeling overwhelmed at the level of sophistication in systems. Add to this any additional challenges brought on by GDPR. For any growing business, CRM should undoubtedly be a long-term goal. Today it is possible to get CRM up and running with a lighter touch. However, it is better to take time to get it right and build the right foundations, not just in terms of technology but also within business roles and culture, to ensure that it will really achieve business goals.

So what do companies need to do to ensure they get the CRM they need?

  1. Make CRM a Board-level issue

Today, CRM can be redefined as ‘Conversations that are Relevant and Measurable’. It is about managing a conversation with a customer, regardless of when or where it takes place, or who within the organization is on the other side. The focus and investment required making CRM work across the whole business and make it become part of a company’s ethos and culture requires the kind of top-level buy-in and investment that only comes from making conversation management a Board position.

  1. Take the long view

To implement the right CRM for a business, it’s necessary to take the long view and spend time identifying what data attributes from across all customer touchpoints actually make a difference in its own consumer conversations – and which will, therefore, help it to achieve its goals. For instance, it is possible that a brand with a strong focus on Millennials may find that it only needs to implement mobile-based CRM which will be much easier and less costly to set up.

  1. Implement ‘mini’ CRM campaigns

There is an alternative ‘no tech’ CRM that companies can start to use straight away as a stopgap, giving them the space they need to work towards full CRM implementation. This is to create ‘mini’ CRM campaigns when consumers actually have their wallets open. Instead of trying to make sense of all the data all at once, they can take a pared-down approach which combines transactional data with external signals to pinpoint key events in a customer’s life which affect their purchasing behavior. These events could be, for example, when someone is moving home, having a baby or retiring. If we can identify what life event someone is going through, we can understand the context that is driving their consumer decisions and respond appropriately. This is a much simpler, but very effective way of creating the kind of ‘marketing in the moment’ that CRM provides – albeit for a shorter time period.

In today’s complex world there is no one-size-fits-all solution to CRM. These steps ensure organizations have the best chance of getting the right CRM for their own unique needs – and ultimately of maximizing ROI for the long term.

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