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Silurum - Customer Insight & Strategy


Why your CRM project will fail

What we think

My ramblings...

Why your CRM project will fail

Tim Williams

Something doesn't quite add up about CRM 

Over the past 15 years numerous reports have claimed ‘failure’ rates of as much as 70% for CRM projects. Despite our best efforts consumers continue to be fickle, dissatisfied and sceptical about brands and their attempts to ‘manage relationships’. Yet 14 million people worldwide now use CRM software and the CRM market is predicted to be worth over $36 billion by 2017.

So, what’s going on? Are brands spending a fortune just to maintain the status quo?

Are we even measuring the right things?

In its widest sense CRM is about using data, insight, technology, people and processes in an orchestrated way to help acquire, grow or keep customers.

That covers an awful lot things we could measure to define success.

But maybe we don’t need to. We would argue there is one overriding measure of CRM success that has been curiously lacking so far – namely the extent to which your CRM system/programme/philosophy helps your customer achieve their objectives.


The Great Delusion?

We have become seduced by theoretical methodologies and technology and in our desire to be smart we did something stupid – we forgot the customer.

The irony is we use the word customer’ so often - ‘customer segments’, ‘customer journeys’, ‘customer touch points’ etc. But invariably all these phrases denote our view of what the customer looks like; of the journey we want them to take; of the channels we’d prefer them to use.

In fact we can become so caught up in our own rhetoric, so self-obsessed with our own brand, that we lose sight of the reality on the ground.

The bad news: is that customer reality is messy.

That reality looks something like this:

• You’re most likely not an important part of your customer’s life

• Even your high value customers don’t especially care about your brand

• You’re just one of many brands they ‘engage’ with, usually unconsciously, every day

• Your most attractive prospects are not watching your TV commercials

• Your social media strategy is totally irrelevant to the majority of your customers

• Your most ‘loyal’ customers would probably be surprised to hear themselves described as such

• Your most loyal customers are the least valuable

• Your most valuable customers are the least loyal

• Those who say they are most likely to recommend you are highly unlikely to actually do so

• You are engaged in a customer experience arms race that you cannot win

• Your competitors are not who you think they are…


The good news: what doesn’t matter to your customer shouldn’t matter to you.


Rather you should focus most about what your customer cares about most:

• Stuff that’s useful and helpful

• Stuff that‘s interesting and inspiring

• Stuff that saves money or adds value

• Anything that helps me address the need I have right now

Surely that shouldn’t be too difficult?

Have we been trying very hard for the past 15 years to be very good - at doing the wrong things?


The purpose of CRM is to find a role for your brand in the eyes of the customer

If you view CRM just as a way to be more efficient at delivering your organisation’s objectives you will ultimately be disappointed.

If, on the other hand, you view CRM as primarily about being more effective at delivering your customer’s objectives you will find that your commercial goals should more than take care of themselves.

Another way to view this is to ask the question:

What role can our brand most effectively play in the noisy, crowded and chaotic life of our customer - and when & how should we play it?’

The answer will of course vary according to the category your brand is in and the nature of your audience.

There is no standard model for CRM – but if you want it to be successful for your organisation you need to start with insight into you what success looks like for your customer.