CRM Solution Software

CRM Software Solutions

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An Executive's Guide to CRM Software

Customer Support Systems Implementation Pitfalls


Rising client dissatisfaction or excessive customer churn are common reasons companies decide to implement a customer service or call center CRM software system. In the majority of instances, upwards of approximately eighty percent of customer complaints refer to the same product line or service category. Yet, the complexity of a customer service department incents many executives and project teams implement a total support system covering every possible issue and hypothetical scenario. If implementing a single feature will resolve the number one complaint, which is also the most common and repetitive complaint, and further represents the most influential impact in raising client satisfaction, why do a majority of projects fail to take this focus and instead insist on an enterprise wide big bang approach? Think about it.

Planning a project to utilize every feature of the selected software is a major pitfall in deploying such a system. Instead of focusing on all areas, oftentimes it is wise to prioritize the project according to the call center organizational objectives, and break the project into manageable and discrete phases.

A major catastrophe looms if the project team does not associate each objective with a slated time period, and each series of objectives with a phase. Experienced customer support software vendors can provide valuable input on the optimal number of objectives for each implementation stage and the estimated duration for each goal. It is also always wise to build in room for the unexpected and the inevitable change management issues that will arise.

Oftentimes, one of the common customer support objectives is improved issue resolution speed and accuracy. If the time to resolve the problem involved is not measured prior to the implementation, success cannot be claimed. If success cannot be proven as compared to a baseline performance, the end users may question the customer support systems credibility or view the project’s phased goals as not achieved.

A simple issue resolution in the case of an inventory based company can span across many departments. It is imperative that stove pipe business processes be integrated across the organization and departments be aligned and standardized before a CRM software solution can be implemented successfully. A majority of service system deployments begin the planning and departmental integration efforts well before software implementation thereby accelerating the actual software deployment phases.

Because of the complexity of implementing a customer support software system, and because several departments are typically involved, many projects inappropriately start without the championship of the corresponding key management representatives. Disastrous results occur when there is a lack of executive sponsorship that effectively spans all affected departments or lines of business.

Failure to include key representative users from each area on the project team as well as their supervisors results in the blind leading the blind. If the individuals who will utilize the system are not testing daily use of the system, the go-live period will include a series of debates and debacles. An adjunct to this is not using staff incentives to promote user buy-in, one of the most important indicators of a triumphant customer support system installation.

Customer support representative and related users, whether managers or clerical, are naturally resistant to change. Further, many executives, project team members or division heads often increase the effect of change by customizing the software. Nothing fates a project to abject failure more than the definition of a lengthy list of customizations prior to implementation, and this is a pitfall associated with legendary budget overruns. A minimal amount of customization is acceptable, and in fact often very helpful for tailoring the customer service systems to the company's business processes and support requirements. However, knowing when to say when and cease customization to prevent an overly customized information system must be recognized by the executive sponsor and project team.

Although it appears evident the term garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) would not have been coined had it not occurred with great frequency. This data problem continues to occur frequently and is often a culprit is delaying software implementation projects near the beginning of their life cycles. Bad data cannot provide benefits to anyone involved, and it is the building block for certain disaster. To mitigate this pitfall, perform a data sampling early in the process to determine the quality of data and an estimated time needed for data cleansing.

Particularly in a CRM customer service software implementation, thorough end user training and timely staff support are critical to implementation go-live and post implementation success. However, most projects underestimate not only the amount each task requires, but also the duration for which both should be provided. In today’s information age, most individuals have encountered this pitfall either through direct experience or as an end user. A majority of the population of most countries have encountered a Customer Support Representative unable to provide the required service simply because of a lack of knowledge related to the process or the customer service information system.

A key to measuring the success of a customer service software implementation is the knowledge of what to measure both prior and post implementation. Baseline metrics, cycle times and performance factors must be defined and measured before the project begins. Unclear measures are the fulcrum for tipping a project into catastrophe or victory.

Frequently the selected customer service solution and the company’s accounting software or inventory systems are distinctly separate, and the project team fails to analyze whether a system integration is necessary. Most front office CRM systems should consider system integration with back office Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems or accounting software applications in order to facilitate enterprise wide business processes, information collection and automation. Obviously, CRM systems which also offer integrated back office accounting software can save large amounts of time and investment when compared to building the integration and upgrading it with each new CRM or ERP software version release. In the current market, there are several on premise and software as a service (SaaS) fully integrated CRM and ERP systems which should be considered if an enterprise wide view is part of the implementation project scope.


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