CRM Maturity Levels

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We’re a small company and I often think about what CRM means to us.  How do we enable it for our company.  Is there any real benefit to implement it and if so what parts of it do we need to add?

CRM stands for Customer relationship management and the acronym has been thrown around heavily since CRM software started in the early 1990s .  In my experience it means different things to different people and every industry has their own implementation and set of best practices for it. According to Wikipedia it is a technology that manages all of our customer interactions.

The first CRM I ever worked on was called GoldMine.  A windows only application that connected originally only to a dbase database. It was super enhanced later to connect to the modern MSSQL 7.  The GoldMine client application displayed the customer’s details at the top of the screen and multiple tabs at the bottom for entities related to the customer.

GoldMine Pending

Time and time again I would go into a customer with this product and they would spend most of their time raving (we used language like this back then) about the pending and history tabs.  One showed all uncompleted activities and the other showed all completed activities.  In these earlier days of software development this did not seem like such a complex thing to develop yet the benefit that businesses using the product gained from being able to track all their customer interactions seemed invaluable.  It was really only the start of what GoldMine could do yet back then a lot of companies would just start with doing only this.

One of our other mainstay products is our service management product which has a well documented set of best practices supporting it called the ITIL framework.  This consists of modules such as Incident, Problem, Change, Service Request and Release.  As a new customer adopts the ITIL framework they proceed through an ITIL maturity process.  The first module is normally Incident and then they add-on other modules as they better understand the best practices and as their own internal processes mature.

This ITIL maturity model is well documented and I have spent much time hunting for a similar model for CRM.  It seems like it would make perfect sense as almost every company has a form of CRM and many are still implementing CRM processes in their organisation. The image below is my attempt at the same kind of maturity model but for a company’s adoption of CRM.

CRM Maturity Levels

During the young phase of CRM maturity the focus should be on the core principles of CRM.  These are things such as contact and account management, activity tracking (remember the pending and history tabs), lead management and sales forecasting.  As the customer matures they can then start to consider things in the medium maturity column such as quoting, product and price lists and sales goals and metrics.  An even more mature system will include things such as marketing and campaigning, contract management, an integrated service management, social integration and documentation management. What we really need to prove here is repeatable processes, then we can define the processes better, manage the processes and optimise them.

We still do offer support for GoldMine as we have a large 100 user plus seat customer that we support. We are however helping them to look at a more modem alternative solution.  Our recommended CRM solution is Microsoft CRM as it easily scales across the entire maturity lifecycle of a customer.  A business can start with simple lead management and grow into more advanced sales automation.  MS CRM is one of the leaders in Sales force automation and always performs well on the Gartner Magic quadrant.

We’ve also developed our own in house solution called #CRM to cater for customers that are in a young CRM maturity phase.  It performs all the functionality that is in the young column in the image above and a free demo is available online.

Greg Strydom
Think Tank Software Solutions

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