Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Does your CRM system give you everything you need?

EWA recently had a stand at the Data Marketing Show, part of Marketing Week Live and over the course of the two day exhibition, I had numerous conversations with people about all things data and CRM related.

One topic that kept cropping up was the failing of “off the shelf” CRM systems and the frustrations experienced by marketing personnel in particular.

“It doesn’t integrate with our email marketing software”, “I struggle to export the data in a usable format”, “We’ve had to change our processes to suit the way the system works” and “All I need is a system which I can use for mailings and allows me to keep my data up to date” were all common themes I heard. Now of course I’m sure some of the frustrations vented can be put down to what I like to call “user error” but not everyone I spoke to can be guilty of under-using or mis-using their CRM system. Which leads me to the question, are proprietary CRM systems right for everyone or have we all been a little sucked in by the hype?

A little bit of Googling returned some interesting stats to help answer the point raised.

1. In 2003, a Gartner report estimated that more than $1 billion had been spent on software that wasn’t being used.
2. In a 2007 survey, four-fifths of senior executives reported that their biggest challenge is getting their staff to use the systems they’d installed
3. 43 percent of respondents said they use less than half the functionality of their existing system
4. 72 percent indicated they’d trade functionality for ease of use
5. 51 percent cited data synchronization as a major issue

Given the facts above and the anecdotal evidence gathered during the exhibition, the answer to my earlier question has to be no, proprietary CRM systems aren’t (necessarily) right for every business and on some level, we have believed the industry hype.

This leads me on to my second point and one which addresses the other main thing I heard during the show, “if only I could have a system which just does… (Insert wish list here)”

And of course the answer is yes, you can have a bespoke CRM system which exactly matches your requirements, without all of the unnecessary functionality that you’ll never need and will have to work around.

“Hmmm, not sure about bespoke” I hear you say. “Doesn’t that mean it’ll be expensive and developed in some weird programming language?” In a word - No. In the past, bespoke, has been something of a dirty word when used in conjunction with software development. However; in just about every other circumstance, bespoke conveys a message of made to measure, quality and a precise fit which is exactly what a bespoke CRM system provides.

With the web technology available today, bespoke CRM systems can be quickly developed and deployed to multiple concurrent users giving them precisely the functionality they need, often far more cost effectively than a proprietary CRM system.

So if you’re considering a new CRM system it’s a good idea to take a look at the bespoke route, you may find it fits a little better than the off the peg version.