Change management is crucial to CRM success, says Gartner

Customer relationship management systems will continue to disappoint users during 2003 unless companies address change management...

Customer relationship management systems will continue to disappoint users during 2003 unless companies address change management issues more closely, GartnerG2 warned last week.

The analyst firm said companies should allocate at least half of their CRM budgets to change management issues, such as training, to get the best value from their implementations.

"Much of the activity done in the name of CRM has only served to alienate customers, and you could argue it deserved the poor reputation it got during 2002," said Jennifer Kirkby, research director at GartnerG2.

"The human aspects of CRM and resulting change management is crucial, but it is not well understood. Companies will need to allocate half of their total CRM budgets to change management, instead of the 10% typically allocated today."

There are some very obvious and widespread examples of people, processes and technology that continue to be out of sync, Kirkby said.

"People are either not using technology or they are using it with ineffective and outdated business processes in place.

"Customer service centres have put technology in place to log enquiries or complaints, but staff are often not trained to interview the client and companies often have no process to ensure it is passed to the right people to be resolved and for processes to be adjusted accordingly."

Although many CRM projects have not fulfilled expectations, recent research by GartnerG2 suggested the technology will remain a key factor behind gaining competitive advantage.

The survey of 100 European companies revealed that corporate planners ranked managing relations with customers as the most important source of competitive advantage over the next five years.

"There is no let up in the importance of CRM," said Kirkby. "It has moved from ‘nice to have’ to necessity, and, this year, companies must ‘get down to business’ to get the real value out of previous CRM investments and practices."

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