by Richard Pastore

CRM Blame Game

May 01, 20013 mins
CRM Systems

It’s become clear that CRM isn’t paying off for a lot of you. As you will see in this issue’s cover story (“The Truth About CRM,”, the complex implementations are being bungled, the users are snubbing the systems, and lots of money is being wasted.

Certainly there is a compelling lure in CRM software–the latest acronym to be dangled in front of the hungry trout in the corporate fishpond. Exploited to its ultracapitalistic extreme, CRM pledges to capture your best customers, hoist them up by their ankles, and shake every last dime out of their pockets and into your coffers. Who could resist such bait?

It’s the vendors’ fault for overselling this stuff, right? Siebel, Oracle and the rest of them. They have trumpeted CRM’s capabilities without being candid about its complexity. They encourage extravagant big-bang purchases. They advocate enterprisewide risky rollouts. But can you blame them for doing this? Like you, their goal is to make the most money for their companies allowable by law.

What about those consultants who spring up eager to do the dirty work of product selection, installation and if someone happens to remember to request it, user training? But can you blame them for exceeding your budget and time line by 100 percent? This CRM stuff is new to them too. They are learning as they go, using willing companies like yours as their CRM labs.

Could the true culprit be your blindly beguiled CEO, salivating at the thought of squeezing even more milk from your customer cash cows? CEOs always seem too eager to imbibe the intoxicating brew of the latest three-letter buzz term, covered with almost-criminal naivete in their business magazines. Or is it one of your peer executives, the head of sales or marketing? After all, they own the business processes, and it’s the sales and marketing people who resist the change CRM brings to organizations.

I suppose it’s at least conceivable that the blame lies with a technology person–an IT executive who blocked out the haunting echoes of unrealized ERP expectations in order to heed a new siren call. The executive entranced by the notion of replacing unintegrated sales and marketing systems, cumbersome market-basket analysis tools and green-screen customer support systems with a state-of-the-art CRM suite. The executive who caved in to the unrealistic CEO, let the sales VP off the hook, chose the vendor, hired the consultant. Could this latest million-dollar boondoggle be the CIO’s fault?

Nah. It’s those damn vendors!