CRM Strategy: Planning, Process and Structure

Udacity Offer 50 OFF

What is CRM Strategy?

A CRM strategy is a game plan for improving the interaction between the customers and the sales, marketing, and customer support departments.

The term “customer relationship management strategy” refers to procedures that are geared toward converting each prospect into a customer and maintaining existing customers by providing them with tailored communication. Since its introduction, the notion of customer relationship management (CRM) has assisted businesses in improving their connection with customers and achieving their objectives.

A customer relationship management system, sometimes known as CRM software, is a tool that can assist companies in managing client relationships. A CRM system is, at its core, a database that stores and organises customer data, allowing the team to stay on top of everything that is going on at all times. CRMs also include tools that can assist the company in automating sales and marketing outreach, fielding inbound customer service requests, and generating reports on the organisation’s performance.

Steps to Create a Successful CRM Strategy

Auditing the Business

The current workflows, as well as any existing strategies, should be thoroughly examined as the first step in developing a CRM strategy. To evaluate the company’s current shortcomings and strengths, as well as the most significant opportunities and threats, an audit should be conducted. A SWOT analysis is exactly what it sounds like.

Defining Goals

In terms of customer relationship management, start by determining what companies actually want to achieve at a high level. Is the company wanting to improve the net promoter score (NPS)? Reduce customer churn? Reduce the length of sales cycle? Making sure companies understand why they are implementing a strategy and what they hope to achieve by doing so.

Companies should take the time to analyse whether or not they can really achieve objectives with the resources they presently possess after having stated their objectives. Does the company have enough team members to carry out the strategy and achieve their objectives? Does the company require more powerful tools, such as a customer relationship management system, to assist them? Make sure the company has what they need to be successful by planning ahead of time.

Determining who the target customer is

This may seem obvious, but it is critical to have a clear grasp of who the consumers and prospects are to develop buyer personas for products and services. Having a clear picture of who the company needs to communicate with will only aid them in developing the most effective techniques and messaging to reach them. Companies should confer with sales and customer support staff if they do not have a specific buyer or customer in mind. Companies can also conduct client surveys or directly interview customers to obtain the information they are searching for.

Identifying the stages of the customer journey

In a same vein, companies should be familiar with the ins and outs of the complete client journey, from start to finish. Familiarise the company with all of the possible first touch points as well as the rest of the company’s funnel’s functionality by making a connection between this cycle and the buyer personas. The most crucial question to ask in this situation is: Does the sales and marketing funnel correspond to who their buyer is?

Being aware of the competition as well as their own positioning

While having a good grasp of the consumers and internal processes is crucial, it is also important to know where companies are in regard to competitors and how they may improve their position. Describing the types of materials or resources that the competitors are distributing. What can the company do to stand out?

Let us understand these steps with the help of example.

  • Auditing the Business: Let us consider the example of Activision CRM. Activision is a video game service company which provides video game services through social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. They audited the business and able to reduce the customer service expense by 25%.

  • Defining Goals: In the above example, Activision has defined the goal after audit of the business, 82 percent of customer-related complaints are evaluated and resolved online through self-service.’

  • Determining who the target customer is: Activision has determined that their target market is the young population, hence they gathered data of their potential customers from social media website. They targeted the social media accounts of people who are between the age of 12-25.

  • Identifying the stages of the customer journey: Activision has tried to improve communications with its gaming community, to identify the reasons for the uninstalling of their video game applications.

  • Being aware of the competition as well as their own position: Activision has reduced overhead costs and increase user satisfaction rates, as a result of their position in the competitive market.

CRM Strategy

A CRM plan implementation roadmap assists a company in developing a positive cultural acceptance of customer relationship management (CRM). Using this road map, the company will be able to deal with organisational changes, new businesses, consumer needs, and customer relationship management technologies.

The stages of putting CRM strategy into action are shown in Figure

CRM Implementation Strategy Road Map
CRM Implementation Strategy Road Map

Scenario Analysis

The development of an enterprise CRM strategy necessitates a thorough examination of a company’s operations and surrounding environment.

  • The company is required to respond to the following questions:
  • What exactly is the firm’s line of business?
  • Who are the company’s customers?
  • What position does the company hold in relation to its competitors? If a company has a monopoly, does that mean the company does not require CRM approaches?

The current business environment and how it is expected to evolve in the future, both short-term and long-term. Scenario analysis assists a company in better understanding its position in relation to its competition. As a result, the company may determine what actions it should take in order to improve its performance in the market and create relationships with its consumers.


After doing an examination of its surroundings, the company must choose the goal for which it will engage in a CRM exercise. Perhaps they want to establish a more productive, efficient, and long-lasting business relationship with their clients. The company should not embark on a CRM project simply because its competitors have done so or because it is the latest craze in the business, but rather because it is in its best interests.


The planning for change or transformation in a company is a critical element in the CRM implementation road map and should not be overlooked. Before making any changes, any firm must first identify the overarching objectives of its CRM system, both at the departmental and at the enterprise level.

A business document would be created to record high-level CRM business objectives, which would then serve as a focus point for the development of a strategic plan. As a result of such an exercise, several fundamental adjustments in the organisation would be necessitated.

Some integrated areas that are changed subject to change could be as follows:

  • Business focus
  • Organisational structure
  • Business matrix
  • Marketing focus
  • Technology

A strong change management component is critical to the successful installation of a customer relationship management system (CRM). In order to ensure success, it is necessary to convey the business benefits of the implementation to all individuals who will be touched by the project as well as those whose collaboration will be vital to the project’s success.

For example, when a Fortune 500 manufacturing company began a sales force automation project, the company’s sales employees immediately provided registers when they learned about the business process changes that would be implemented as a result of the new software.

In response to these developments, the organisation’s senior vice president for business development phoned the company’s sales manager and sent an email to the whole sales team, telling them that the new software would enable them to achieve more outcomes and thus bigger profits. Later in the project’s lifecycle, they were given the opportunity to see a prototype demo and verify the executive’s assertions, which they appreciated.

As a result, the goal of by was met, and Salesforce adopted the newly developed solution. The end user should be involved in the installation process from the beginning to ensure that the CRM system meets their demands and helps them become more productive. It is necessary to arrange for them to receive training. Evaluating reward systems as well as team structures, and making necessary modifications to ensure a seamless transition to future processes.

The transformation of corporate culture is a critical element in ensuring the success of a customer relationship management effort. CRM will encounter opposition, just as any other new venture will. The implementation of a new system and approach is tough, particularly in business cultures that have been successful for many years.

When change is handled well, people have a positive experience in the new business environment in which they are working. It helps to clear away the stale practices and outdated thinking that had begun to undermine the company’s operations. It enables a four-sided perspective to how the firm should conduct itself throughout the ensuing years, to the advantage of customers, employees, suppliers, and partners, as well as other stakeholders.

Process Design

CRM requires shifting the entire organisation’s focus to one that is centered on the customer, with all processes and operations being tailored around the customer’s needs. Process design is an important phase in which businesses examine their current processes and attempt to rethink them in order to make them more customer-centric.

Additionally, at this stage, other factors such as the effectiveness of these processes and their efficiency are taken into account. ‰‰

  • Technology and vendor selection: It is at this point that various technologies and vendors are compared to one another. Considerations are made when comparing and contrasting the products offered by different vendors, taking into account aspects such as technology compatibility with existing systems, capabilities of CRM solutions in terms of their features, and other similar considerations.

  • Solution development: A variety of tasks are carried out during this stage, including customisation of existing features, development of new features that are not currently included in the product, process, integration and testing using a prototype, and design of the database. Integration of multiple CRM solutions with one another as well as with back-end systems might take place at this step in the process.

  • Implementation: Organisation deploys the solution and documents it throughout this penultimate stage of the project lifecycle. End users must be trained, and the system must be sold internally in order for it to be used.

  • Measurement: Developing metrics to measure the performance of the CRM solution and comparing that performance to what is desired is the final stage of the CRM deployment road plan. The company may decide to go back and adjust its CRM needs if the

CRM solution does not meet their expectations. Developing metrics helps a company to assess the performance of a CRM installation in terms of how successfully it has handled specific business challenges, hence increasing efficiency. Users may grow more accustomed with the new technology and business process over time, which may cause the improvement to occur gradually. In order to improve the usability of the CRM and the effectiveness of the business, user feedback should be included in the measurement process.

As a result, the development of a CRM strategy and its subsequent implementation as a road map is comprised of a number of interconnected stages. All of these steps occur one after the other and necessitate the provision of remedial feedback at each stage. For example, companies may discover during the measurement step that the processes were poorly designed, and they may wish to go back and make the necessary corrections.

Structure: Creating a CRM Culture

Many organisations have cultures that are not conducive to customer relationship management. Product-centric firms, on the other hand, essentially disregard their consumers and make decisions based on internal objectives rather than the expectations of their customers.

Building cross-organisational and customer-centric initiatives, like as CRM, is made more challenging by these cultural differences. It is beyond the reach of any CRM campaign to change the entire culture of an organisation on a broad scale. However, it is possible that certain changes in behaviour will be brought about within the organisation through training and education, as well as the creation of measurements and rewards.

It is well acknowledged that one must adjust to new circumstances. “We don’t hear much anymore about overcoming resistance to change, which was one of the most popular topics of management books and management seminars ten to fifteen years ago,” Peter Parker observed while evaluating management problems for the new millennium. Everyone had anticipated that adjustments would be unavoidable. Nonetheless, this suggests to some that change is akin to ‘death and taxes,’ and that it should be delayed as long as possible.

Generally speaking, people in an organisation are apprehensive about change, and at times they are even afraid of the unknown. The culture and behavioral changes that are required for the success of a CRM program can occur with the right amount of support and encouragement from the top down. If a company does not pay attention to the fundamentals of change management, it will have little chance of delivering an effective customer relationship management program.

Structure of creating a CRM structure is as follows:

  • Stage 1: Unfreezing: At this point, things get really tough. It’s not uncommon for a major organisational change to take place. Traditional methods of doing business are no longer appropriate, which is only understood when they depart top management. Failure need not be the sole source of this epiphany; other causes, such as the desire to improve on previous successes, might spur this insight as well. Strategic thinking and future opportunities should be able to be described by the top management if such changes are made and if they are not put into action.

    Unfreezing may occur if they can effectively communicate this message to their loved ones. People have a hard time absorbing new concepts if they can’t sense them through their senses of sight, taste, or hearing, which is why this is such a challenging task. It is more difficult to gain the breakthrough knowledge that comes from unfreezing.

  • Stage 2: Changing people: People are the most difficult CRM infrastructure component to maintain. People are averse to it. They should be encouraged and rewarded for seeking out cutting-edge methods of doing business and selecting an approach that has the potential to be fruitful.

  • Stage 3: Refreezing: Now that the new strategy has been put into place, it must be maintained as an integral part of the company’s culture.

Let us understand the stages with the help of example of Amazon.

  • Unfreezing: Let’s consider an example of Amazon services. They were originally in the business of selling books, but due to changes in the business, they unfroze their previous business idea and started believing in expanding their business.

  • Changing: The Amazon changed their way of thinking towards business planning and started implementing new and better business strategies in the industry. Amazon launched Amazon Web Services in 2002.

  • Refreezing: After establishing an Online platform, they were able to refreeze the beliefs of the employees and customers that Amazon is the number one Online service company that provides lots of variety in a single application.

Objectives of CRM Strategy

The following are the most significant objective of implementing a CRM strategy for the company: ‰‰

  • Making the entire organisation more collaborative is a good place to start.

  • Maintaining a more accurate record of sales leads

  • Developing marketing initiatives that are more focused and individualised

  • Being able to quickly discover attractive chances for the company to grow or generate more income is a valuable skill.

  • Improvements in customer service for both prospective and existing customers

  • Using insights and data to generate more accurate predictions about future performance is the goal.

Complexities of CRM Strategy

The level of complexity is crucial because if a company decides that developing a system will be a simple task and it turns out to be otherwise, the odds are that the company will not have the resources necessary to achieve a good outcome are high. The complexities are as follows:

Product Complexity

Unnecessary product complexity refers to the practice of providing items, services, or alternatives that only a small number of customers demand. Most businesses enjoy providing their consumers with a variety of options, but managers frequently overestimate the demands of their customers and their willingness to pay for all of those options. Sometimes, it is undeniable that businesses have gone too far in their pursuit of innovation.

Organisational Complexity

Companies that expand their product lines or enter new markets are more likely to experience an increase in organisational complexity as a result. They may attempt to maximise size while remaining close to the customer.

Pursuing both of these goals frequently results in complex matrix structures, duplicated costs at multiple levels, and a lack of clearly defined accountabilities, to name a few problems. The addition of each organisational layer may be justified on its own, but in prosperous times, few businesses evaluate their impact on the organisation as a whole.

Process Complexity

The majority of companies that make an attempt to manage complexity begin with procedures, frequently through initiatives such as Lean Six Sigma. However, lowering the complexity of a company’s processes should be the last step, not the first. Overspending may be controlled and performance can be tracked more effectively when process complexity is managed efficiently.

CRM product does not fit in

If the CRM product does not support multiple deployment models such as on-premise, on-cloud, private cloud, etc., or if the product is not flexible enough to accommodate broader customisation to meet the changing and growing needs of the organisation, the company may not have enough options, which is especially true for a growing organisation.

As another point, if the product is out of date with current CRM trends such as Social CRM or Mobile CRM, it may not be appropriate for the future. As a result, ensure that the customer relationship management (CRM) product meets not only present business requirements but also the evolving and changing demands of the organisation.

Lack of Integration Capabilities

A customer relationship management system (CRM) will only be as effective as its integration with other IT systems, such as e-commerce, marketing automation, ERP, and so on. It is possible that the integration procedure will be a significant load for the employees if there is a lack of support from the support staff of existing systems that need to be merged with CRM.

This will consume hours of working time from the personnel without producing any visible benefits. It is recommended that integration requirements, if any, be planned in advance to minimise CRM deployment overkill.

Lack of expertise of CRM vendors

If the CRM implementation vendor does not have sufficient experience with the CRM product or has never before undertaken any CRM projects on a scale comparable to the company’s, it may result in unexpected obstacles that are extremely difficult to overcome once the CRM implementation project has begun to take shape.

In addition, CRM suppliers may be underprepared for potential implementation issues, resulting in a waste of valuable time and resources for the customer. In order to avoid this, it is appropriate to properly evaluate the capabilities of the vendor and verify their credentials before entering into a formal contract with him or her.

Lack of user adoption

There’s a common misconception that once CRM software has been installed, everyone will immediately start using it to its fullest potential. This isn’t always the case, however. Despite the importance of CRM user adoption, many firms lack a strategy or plan in place. End users of the system require intensive training programs if they are to get the most out of it.

It’s not a good idea to have the employees spend time navigating difficult screens or entering lengthy data. CRM systems should be a part of everyone’s daily routine, and they should be taught how to use them in the most efficient way possible in order to maximise their productivity.

Lack of Business Insight

After getting the appropriate CRM solution, the ideal vendor, and the team members are enthusiastic about this ‘new software’. When all these procedures are followed but no action is taken on the insights gained from the accessible data, the CRM strategy may still fall apart if it is merely used as a wastebasket for data.

Only the company can get the data from a CRM program. It is not able to form judgments on behalf or persuading colleagues to follow through on the plans. Customer concerns, opportunity exploitation, and increased sales can all be improved by utilising the data that the sales or marketing team has at their disposal.

Using surveys integrated into CRM, for example, a company may gain more insight from their contacts in real-time. CRM implementation costs may also be affected by aspects such as data transfer and quality, as well as changing business activities, thus careful planning and assessment of any potential hidden expenses can help companies create a realistic budget for the project.

Business Culture

People inside the organisation who are unwilling or unable to modify their attitudes and behaviours can cause significant challenges with this CRM deployment. The failure of customer relationships to thrive and the consequent loss of income will occur unless everyone in the company is committed to evaluating their operations from the perspective of the customer.

Poor communication

All the necessary individuals in the organisation must be aware of the information they require and how to use it in order to secure by in and make CRM operate. Always convey integration requirements in advance if other teams, such as payroll, are required to collaborate on the implementation (for example, accounting).

Lack of leadership

Any CRM implementation plan that is not well-executed could encounter difficulties. Management should set an example by ensuring that every project is centred on the client. If a proposed strategy does not meet the needs of the consumer, do not implement it. Assigning the team the task of coming up with a better solution.

Leave a Reply