The Top Five Mistakes Franchisors Make in Implementing CRM Technology

If you search Google or any other search engine on the internet for the term "CRM" you are likely to see more than 100 vendors offering CRM technology as the end-all and be-all solution to solving all your company aches and pains, along With a lot of paid advertisements for the latest and greatest vendors to hit the market. While these vendors are readily spending millions on advertising, they have little to say on their company websites as to how to successfully implement CRM solutions to meet the needs of your business. Couple this with the number of companies reporting failures in their CRM initiatives of 60-70% of companies polled, we felt compelled to share our experience from the last 20 years designing and implementing numerous CRM-like solutions across a large number of industries, and Bring you the following list of the biggest mistakes that we have seen:

Mistake # 1: Not Forming A Steering Committee That Includes Representatives From All Corporate Departments That Have Responsibility For Customer Management: ie responding to customers' requests for information, recruiting and signing new customers, processing orders, delivering the requested products and services in a timely manner, billing for products and services delivered, and following up with customers after the sale. As the front line of customer service for your company, the input of these users of the CRM system you are considering are critically important because they will make or break your decision once implemented. Without their buy in and support, your project may be dead on arrival as users find that the old ways of servicing your customers is easier or more comfortable for them in their individual jobs, and they ultimately find ways around keeping your solution up to date with the latest customer service details including purchase history, email communication, website feedback, and customer satisfaction after the sale.

Mistake # 2: Not Clearly Identifying Who The Ultimate Decision Maker Is For CRM Technology For The Franchise: In addition to forming the steering committee, it is also important to identify who on the committee is the ultimate decision maker for the business. A committee meeting without this critical officer or manager in attendance is not likely to produce actionable plans. It is important to identify which members have the right to make a decision versus those who only have the right to offer comments or suggestions on how the chosen application may be implemented. It is extremely common for many people to be entitled to delay a decision but one must focus on who is authorized to make one for the committee to function to meet goals and objectives of the company.

Mistake # 3: Not Understanding The Details Of How The Company Operates In Serving Its Franchisees and / or Customers: In virtually all established businesses (except startups), customer service procedures and processes have evolved over time, usually with a lack of documentation of who does what, when, and how. Implementing a CRM solution without understanding the details of the current operations will not serve any purpose other than frustrating staff who feel that management doesn't understand the real day-to-day demands of the customer service team and is likely to cause many employees to feel as though new technology puts their job or job function in jeopardy of being eliminated or thrown out with new technology. In order to counter this effect, The safest bet is to hire or contract a qualified Business Analyst or Process Mapping expert to observe daily operations of all customer service activities under all circumstances (good and bad), and document what is actually happening real-time in the organization. The Business Analyst will likely use Process Mapping tools such as Microsoft Vizio, SmartDraw, or iGrafX to build visual, pictorial models of what is actually happening today in real-time. The results of the Business Analyst's work should be verified with each department for buy-in and acceptance that what has been observed matches the documented processes. After the process maps have been completed, management can then focus on the exact improvements that CRM technology is expected to deliver to the company in the coming weeks and months.

Mistake # 4: Relying on Out-of-the-Box Technology to Meet the Custom Requirements of the Franchised Business: Once you have the process maps from the Business Analyst above, ask the vendors that are trying to earn your business to map out how their solution will serve to enhance or automate the most difficult customer service processes in your organization. If the vendor is unwilling or unable to provide a resource to do this, eliminate them from your short list of potential partners. Too often, slick sales people with a lot of technology tools at their disposal will try to convince you to trust them with the very keys to your company livelihood (aka customers and the processes to service and retain them) with little attention to your company long -term health, financially or otherwise. Avoid vendors who continuously use the term "Best Practices" or "Industry Solutions" in their sales pitches. Your business is unique in the market which it serves, and your technology solution should be equally unique and customized for your business.

Mistake # 5: Trying to Fit New Technology Into Your Existing Organizational Structure: As you begin the process to implement CRM technology, continuous organization change is a basic requirement. Existing job descriptions will have to be re-written for the new processes and technology. Those employees who have the ability to quickly integrate new technology willingly in their jobs to the benefit of the company will need to promoted to more leadership positions, and those that resist the change will have to be reassigned to another job function or re-trained for another position. This process will be repeated many times in the coming months and years as new technology comes online in the business community.

Once you have laid out your CRM project plans for your franchise, avoiding the mistakes mentioned above, you will be better equipped than most to tackle a technology project such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in virtually any business sector.

If you have questions about organizing for your project or specific questions regarding your readiness for CRM, please contact: Michael Auten, President, XpandCRM, Inc. at [email protected] or by phone at +001 (770) 403-4322.