Solid potential, billions wasted

CRM has had a troubled and controversial adolescence. After being trumpeted as "the next big thing" in the late 90's, around the time of the dot com crash it soon became a symbol of corporate IT excess, with billions of dollars being written off in failed projects. CRM, however, is experiencing a renaissance and with better strategies, large companies are finally starting to see some successes built upon hard-earned lessons.

Small and medium enterprises were lucky enough to avoid most of the cost and heartache of CRM's first coming, mostly because the software cost millions to implement. With the costs of implementing quality CRM solutions now being in the thousands, smaller businesses are getting into CRM to remain competitive an efficient. Without learning the lessons of their bigger cousins, even some smaller companies are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. This month we shed a little light onto why most CRM projects fail, and steps you can take to give your business the best chance of success in this increasingly vital area of your operations.

Of course, CRM isn't all doom and gloom. As a strategy, it is underpinned by the notion that companies will deliver better service - a source of sustainable competitive advantage that isn't based on cutting prices to compete with the 3rd world - if they become customer-centric. Putting the customer at the centre of the business means most businesses need to change the way they do things, and a CRM strategy that makes customer information central, consistent and accessible to all part of the business is a key achievement.

Most businesspeople would agree that being customer-centric is a good thing. Sound simple, doesn't it? So why do CRM projects fail? How can you ensure your CRM strategy is a success?

Lesson 1: Relationships are a 2-way street

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