Optimization and effective management of relationship with customers allow companies to succeed and advance in terms of growing competition and increasing customers requirements for service quality. Such strategy is called CRM (Customer Relationship Management).
While setting aims of organization or project, one must always remember about the row of certain criteria of success. Up to the end of the twentieth century, the formulation of these tasks or goals in the form of a short set of the quantitative estimations and well-known (or reported) statements oriented to success was not widespread. Nowadays, the term critical success factors (CSF) is used.
As noted by Kostojohn, Paulen and Johnson (2011), success with a CRM program is built on four pillars: having the right people in the organization engaged in the right roles in the CRM program, implementing well-designed internal and customer processes, implementing the right supporting technology, and setting reasonable expectations for what success looks like.
Critical Success Factors
IT organizations can successfully develop a few levels of CSF while executing a CRM program. One CSF may relate to the higher strategic questions and priorities while other belongs to or is determined by subzero levels of organization: by departments or even work groups. The following factors are basic and mostly suitable for any IT organization.
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Planning and Strategy Determination
Determination of strategy, mission, goals and expectations of managers, office workers, shareholders, partners and clients is essential for development of business. It was described by some large modern businessmen as "vision" of business. Eventually, there must be an administrative obligation about implementation of these plans and placing of resources. According to reports the estimation of projects contribution to development of the organization will be made. However, Wikstrom (2006) notes that the implementing of CRM system before business strategy has been created and rolling out CRM before changing the companys organization may result in a failure.
Supervising Communications and Services
Quality of services and communication both with clients and staff determines the success of any organization in a great deal. Most failures that IT companies meet are related to insufficient support of processes substantial for maintenance of both internal and external elements. To solve this problem, one must set acceptable external marketing communication means and unite all of communication possibilities in the single system, may it be telephones, the Internet, e-mail, or personal communication devices.
Strategies of Technologies of Development of Mutual Relations
All organizations must produce effective strategy to provide progress and determination of actions which guarantee success. Setting on finding out unknown facts by means of information and communication technologies determines a difference between leaders and outsiders in greater part of industries or state organizations. An important part of this strategy is plugging in her of the permanent educating, i.e. the educational process sent to the receipt of knowledge about that, what technologies the best of all to use. Educating can come true by means of electronic technologies, step-up interest, and inspiring students. Most formal courses or educational seminars are considered to be boring and thus, can create a wall of misunderstanding between staff and partners. Clients value the creative methods of educating and possibility of using electronic resources to gain profit. The association of companys technology with technology of its clients assists strengthening of business connections; naturally, it will be more difficult for clients to break off relations with such a company. This moment will become essential in the realization of CRM strategy.
Management of In-Plant Training of Employees
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The increase of the organizations efficiency through growth of the individual productivity and internal co-operation between departments induces a company to monitor the queries of clients more thoroughly, develops the production of new commodities and services and new mutual relations. People sensitively react on a difference in service. They always reacted and always will react on it, even if mutual relations come true within the limits of the electronic environment (not through the personal contacts). Development of profitable mutual relations with a customer depends on responsibility of all employees of the organization. Although some companies can appear at the market suddenly, especially in the new industries related to information technologies, the quality of service and personnel create a difference between companies and provide an essential contribution into development of the organization. It can take place on most subzero or the higher levels of organization, and those funds invested in in-plant training of the employees will justify themselves in the future. It will be an important strategy of investments, aimed at long-term development and strengthening of the organization.
Information and Property Protection (Including the Problems of Confidentiality)
Information is the most valuable asset of any organization. As noted by Tafti (2002), a single clear source of customer information is essential to success of a CRM initiative as is a software solution that can prepare information, as well as match and link records. A successful enterprise declares all actions that must be taken and determines responsibility of supervisors and office in implementation of such tasks. Development of the accountability system and drafting of reports will provide a clear understanding of the situation, and, in addition, will decrease the risk level. However, very often reports are made by lower-level specialists, which do not possess enough knowledge to make them efficient. In the modern electronic world, the questions of clients confidentiality maintenance are extraordinarily important.
Contribution to Development of Organization
The final CSF is a contribution into work of organization, subdivision, group, or project. The most effective supervision is to reward the employees according to their personal deposit. There are lots of success factors; different aspects are included in their number, from financial ones to the factors related to the personnel of the organization. They also include the amount of sales or factors of development, profit margins, profitability, and even customers satisfaction with work of the company. The estimation of employees contribution must be based not only on indexes of productivity for past or present period. It is necessary to use the estimation of possibilities (and/or level of accordance to the inclinations of customers), to achieve a reasonable placement of resources. If in the world of electronics the correct positioning determines the success by fifty percent, then creation of information structure and making it accessible for all partners induces to the realization of maximal possibilities (up to complete informative integration with clients and partners).
CRM system has long outgrown its original status of a software product and transformed into something else. As of today, implementing CRM system means not just automating relationships with customers, but initiating a new business strategy, the core of which is a client-oriented approach. However, in order for this strategy to work, one must be clearly aware of the aims and objectives of CRM project.
In this article, the main critical success factors for a CRM program were described. It should be kept in mind that CSF listed here are general and thus cannot be implemented to all companies. Also, it would be desirable to stress that the introduction of the concept of CRM is a fairly lengthy and costly process. The greatest financial benefits are brought by long-term projects. From this, the important conclusion follows: the introduction of CRM-system is not justified in all of the cases. Those companies that do not see long-term benefits to CRM are should completely abandon the project rather than trying to get profit it fast.
Those companies that are not ready to make structural changes and adapt their strategy should refrain from adoption of the concept of CRM, as well. Companies that do not want to make changes in the corporate culture and staff should postpone the decision of implementation until each employee is aware of the need and benefits of adopting a new business philosophy.