3 CRM use cases: Which is right for you?

Let's look at the big three CRM use cases from 50,000 feet so you can see where your organization’s processes and people fit.

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Go to any customer relationship management (CRM) vendor's website and you'll be inundated with wondrous tales of how the CRM system can transform your business, increasing profitability and customer satisfaction at the same time. CRMs give you access to new markets, provide executives with a 360-degree view of the customer relationship, enable real-time responses to myriad customer problems, increase sales productivity and improve operational predictability, all while whitening teeth and freshening breath! The good news is that there isn't a single lie in any one of those websites. (What they say is guaranteed to be true in someuniverse, if not the one we inhabit at the moment.)

Of course, a CRM system itself doesn't transform anything. It's a piece of code enabling visibility, automation and follow-through. What will actually change business performance are the behavior changes in your people, the improvement in data quality/relevance, and the process improvements enabled by the CRM system.

Buying the best CRM in the world is like buying a Ferrari or Lamborghini expecting to immediately start winning races. In fact, if you don’t change the way you drive, these cars will make you a very sloppy driver.  In the CRM world, the only way you get superior results is through users who are actually happy to work in the system and data that’s clean and accurately reflecting the customer situation. That’s hard.

Seen in this light, a CRM system can be viewed as a tool that helps you realize your team's potential. It's like buying a better tennis racket or the coolest new skis. If your organization doesn't have the potential to really do what you want — to play tennis or ski, as it were — the CRM project merely exposes the weaknesses. It doesn’t help you to do clumsy, dumb things faster.

Think realistically about your organization's readiness and the breadth of how you actually manage and cultivate customer relationships today. There are plenty of business categories that have yet to evolve to need everything that's on the CRM menu.

Here are the big three CRM use cases. Which fits your organization’s processes and people?

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