Is Your Organization Ready for a CRM? These Tips May Help Answer that Question

By: Ruth Padilla, MA

[box]”How you gather, manage and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”
-Bill Gates[/box]

At a time when competing for customers has never been more challenging, every dollar spent to purchase or lease technology must, more than ever before, prove its worth for the investment. As a result, many hospitals and systems are turning to customer relationship management tools to gain improved customer insights, compete more effectively and strengthen key enterprise-wide operating strategies.

While the thought of investing in a CRM can be seen as a valuable idea, in most instances it’s not a cheap one.  Often hospitals/systems make the purchase, but fail to make the most of their investment and struggle to embrace the technology or maximize its potential.

Ideally, conversations about organizational readiness should happen prior to the purchase of a CRM. These upfront discussions can help key guide internal stakeholders around building the strategy, choosing the right product and implementing it successfully, however, at any point in the equation, it makes sense to think about these important areas:

Leadership Support: Leadership’s commitment and buy-in to supporting a CRM as a means of competitive growth is imperative. Key players in the organization will help and support the successful implementation and adoption of a CRM when they see leadership understands it and is behind it.  Ask yourself:  In my organization, is CRM elevated to the level where leadership values it and drives its continued growth and use?

Strategic Plan and Vision: CRM is a strategy, not simply a data repository.  A successful CRM approach builds on a strategic plan or vision that integrates people and processes with technology. The ability to better “know” customers from every organizational touch point and design business processes and experiences around them is strategically very powerful. Ask yourself:  Is my organization’s CRM tied into the strategic plan?  Who is driving the vision for CRM growth?  Is it a silo tool isolated to a department? Or is it multi-functional to bring enterprise-wide value and competitive edge?

Data: Data is one of the biggest challenges for CRM success. It’s the Garbage-In-Garbage-Out theory.  If the data integrity is weak, then the intelligence about customers is weak.  Customer intelligence is not data for data’s sake, but a compilation of rich sources to build a picture of a customer.  Ask yourself:  What data does the organization have?  How strong is it?  What data is needed?  What will it take to acquire it? How will it enrich (or is it already enriching) my CRM?

Budget: Money is one of the greatest considerations when purchasing or fueling the needs of a solid CRM. We often hear,  “We purchased it, and now we cannot afford to run it.”  Ask yourself: If I purchase this CRM, what kind of dollars will it take to make it operational? How much will it cost to achieve a measureable impact? If I have a CRM, what kind of investment will be required to take it to higher levels?

Manpower and Support: People are a crucial part of CRM purchase, development and ongoing support.  Organizations have to think about who owns the CRM, how it will be managed and what players need to be involved to ensure its continued success.  The simplest CRM may require support from various leaders, including IT, Legal, Marketing, Physicians Relations, Compliance and others.  Ask Yourself: Do I have the support I need to evolve a CRM in my organization?

Time:  Everything boils down to time.  Evolving a CRM requires a continued investment in time and resources.. We sometimes hear, “We’d love to use it more; there is just no time.”  Ask yourself:  With all the organization’s priorities, are we willing to make the investment of time? Do we feel the payoff will be worth our time?

Metrics and Measurements: A CRM is only as good as the strategy it supports and the measurement/ROI it delivers.  In theory, if built-out correctly, a CRM should make the ability to measure and demonstrate ROI a bit of an easier task.  It all starts with knowing your targets and building the infrastructure to support delivery of the data.  Ask yourself: Have I built solid measurements into my CRM planning? How can I continue to evolve the CRM to help me deliver better results?

If you’re working to evolve your CRM strategy or just getting started, we’d love to help.  Email rpadilla@barlowmccarthy.com for more information or to set up a free 30-minute consult.