Senior Vice President CRM,
Q. Everyone looks to achieve greater revenue, profitability,
and customer satisfaction with a CRM solution, but the results are widely
varied. What advice can you offer for higher returns in all three categories?
Don’t fall prey to a piecemeal approach. You will impede your
ability to achieve sound returns in all three areas. I see it time and
time again: an organization experiences a revenue problem and looks to
a CRM application, perhaps a Sales Force Automation tool or a Web shop,
to help chip away at the problem. They implement the point solution but
don’t consider the implications for the overall end-to-end process
as experienced by the customer. It’s one thing to take an order.
It’s another to deliver on it, particularly if you’re talking
about scenarios that involve complex industry-specific production and
A disconnect between order and supply chain processes clearly compromises
profitability and, by extension, customer satisfaction as well. I’d
much prefer to deal with an organization that can give a firm commitment
for an expedited delivery on the spot than one that can’t. Now multiply
that sentiment across hundreds or thousands or even millions of customers.
There is no debate — integrated demand and supply chain processes
are far more efficient, profitable, and appealing to customers. Organizations
with customer-facing activities that are integrated with backend processes
stand to reap much greater returns across the board. So my advice is simple:
Don’t operate your CRM activities in a vacuum. Make sure they are
fully integrated with the right enabling processes and information sources.
This is extremely important for successful interactions with customers
Q. But integration doesn’t come cheap. Every IT organization
knows that process integration is a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming
endeavor. Yet you suggest they tackle a big integration exercise with
every CRM activity?
I am suggesting that every CRM function be integrated with the activities
they impact and that impact them. I am not suggesting that customers
do the heavy lifting. Integration should be delivered with the CRM application.
It should come right out of the box so that you shoulder a relatively
small amount of integration and configuration, and instead focus your
efforts on just the things that are wholly unique to your business.
That is certainly the case with mySAP CRM. It comes with hundreds of
pre-configured, pre-integrated, end-to-end business processes designed
to address a CRM activity in its entirety. Take e-selling, for
example. We don’t simply offer a Web shop for accepting an order.
With mySAP CRM, this activity includes the shipping, billing, and payment
processes as well. Our call center function offers another good example.
This scenario begins with a caller posing a query to an agent, ends with
that caller confirming that his or her inquiry or problem has been fully
and satisfactorily resolved, and encompasses all the escalation activities
If you had to achieve this end-to-end integration for CRM activities
on your own, the cost would soon be prohibitive. Even if you did find
the time, resources, and budget to establish this integration today, what
happens when the various elements along the integration path need to be
upgraded or resized? The long-term TCO would become untenable.
The critical thing to note about CRM is that it is not a single, simple,
self-contained application suite. CRM is the focal point for disparate
business processes, data, and organizations. You need to align yourself
with a vendor that treats it as such and can effect the necessary integration
with the systems that are pertinent to your business.
|At the end of the day, it is how a
CRM solution marries its features and functions with industry-specific
knowledge and process integration capabilities that determines its
value to your business.
Readers of SAP Insider run SAP systems. I can tell you right
now that no vendor integrates CRM with SAP systems better than SAP!
And no vendor offers more industry-specific CRM capability. Industry-specific
considerations are critical for determining the ROI of a CRM solution,
and I encourage your readers to take a hard and fast look at this because,
at the end of the day, it is how a CRM solution marries its features and
functions with industry-specific knowledge and process integration capabilities
that determines its value to your business.
Vanilla CRM is limited because the value chain activities that drive
higher revenue, profitability, and customer satisfaction are not identical.
The call center processes for auto manufacturers, for example, are quite
different than those for public service organizations. Your CRM solution
— at both the feature and process-integration levels — needs
to account for these differences.1
Q. In addition to deep industry-specific knowledge and end-to-end
integration capabilities, are there any other criteria that customers
should factor into a CRM decision?
1. Don’t predicate your evaluation on feature-by-feature comparisons.
SAP has literally thousands of features, and frankly so do others. This
might weed out the lesser players in this space, but it won’t get
you too far. You need to fully understand the context in which those features
operate. How are they integrated with pertinent backend processes? How
do they support the factors that shape your specific industry?
2. Test the solution with a pilot project. Can the vendor get a viable
pilot up and running in a short period of time? If the vendor can’t
establish something meaningful in three to four months, that should raise
a red flag.
3. Evaluate the efficacy of the integration and technology platform
on which the CRM solution is delivered. No vendor is going to address
100% of your requirements. You will have to do some work at your end.
What will it take to do that? How easily will it integrate with your existing
systems? Obviously, if you’re talking about mySAP CRM, integration
with your SAP systems comes right out of the box.
4. Evaluate the short-term and long-term TCO.
5. Does the solution cater to multiple constituencies? Remember, CRM
is a focal point for varied business activities. Your marketing executives
need access to all sorts of analytics. Sales executives need to monitor
and manage commission and incentive plans. Supply chain planners and manufacturing
schedulers need to factor sales and marketing activities into their forecasts.
Sales people need support for the full breadth of a sales cycle. Customer
service agents need customer histories. Suppliers and partners may need
access to various processes and data. Customers may avail themselves of
a Web shop. The list is extensive. Is the solution able to enrich the
activities of all these parties?
6. Insist on reference accounts!
Let me conclude with this thought for SAP Insider readers,
since you are all running SAP systems today: For you, there is no better
CRM solution. With all the feedback we get from our customers, it’s
clear that there is a fundamental change in the way companies look at
CRM — it’s all about finding tightly integrated enterprise
solutions that support the respective industry-specific business pain
points and can be implemented at a reasonable cost. As most CRM features
and functions are commodities right now, customers are asking for a holistic
approach to their needs. More than 30 years of intense cooperation with
our customers across 23 industries put SAP in a unique position to deliver
leading solutions for next-generation CRM.
1 See "CRM
Solutions for Your Industry" by Stefan
Haenisch in this issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).