Many companies have been mentioned in the news recently, not for their success in implementing customer relationship management (CRM), but for the millions of pounds they have invested and their failure to realise the returns they envisaged. Why does it go so wrong

Well, many CRM programmes tend to be driven from a technical stand point. As such, they are far removed from the strategic plan and future direction of the company. They have a tendency to focus on short to medium term priorities, leaving the business exposed to changing markets, customer trends and competitor ‘leap frogging’.

For example, a UK Telco invested £60million in a three year CRM programme. This took longer to implement than it did for the company to change direction and target a new segment in the market. Requirements changed and the company was forced to write down its investment.

This programme failed primarily becasue it focused on implementing a technology solution that was imbalanced and didn’t take into account the holistic needs of the organisation. Worst of all, it viewed CRM as a project with start and end dates. Customer management should be a state of mind that is continuously nurtured across the company. A programme is simply there to help structure, align and support on-going customer focused initiatives.

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