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Business Process Improvements Must Precede Technology Implementation

social CRM Case Study

Business Process Improvements Must Precede Technology Implementation

By Barton Goldenberg

A crucial element to customer-centric strategy implementation success is that business process improvement precedes technology.  On a recent vacation in Italy, I had the pleasure of watching Germany win a major soccer tournament.  I was impressed by how well the Germans and Argentinian players in the tournament had played, but more importantly, I was struck by how structured their plays were.  Like well-oiled machines, the Germans and Argentinians  had created many different plays and had practiced them time and time again, until they had become second nature to the players. If only organizations implemented customer strategies in a similar manner.

The right way to implement a customer strategy initiative is to first determine what customer strategy business functions management wants their initiative to address and how these functions will integrate social insight coming from Social Media community monitoring and filtering.  Taking into account the new ‘to-be’ processes, prioritize these business functions, remembering to bite off only what the organization is able to chew.  Take the time to train customer-facing personnel and customers on how to use the new processes.  And finally apply customer strategy technology to optimize the organization’s well thought-out customer strategy business processes.

Unfortunately, too many organizations depend on customer strategy software vendors to supply needed customer strategy business processes.  For me, anyhow, this is backward logic; let me explain.  Increasingly software vendors build valuable Social CRM process capabilities directly into their software.  But many customer strategy software vendors are not sufficiently business-process savvy to know which specific customer strategy processes to offer in their software.  So either they default by offering one of two options:

  • Building in generic processes along with a business process/workflow engine.
  • Offering vertical, industry-specific software that builds in relevant, industry-specific business processes.

Unfortunately neither of these two options is optimal.

The third option, which is being practiced by best-in-class organizations worldwide, is to follow the 10-step Business Process Review discussed in my previous blog post.  This option delivers valuable, prioritized customer strategy business processes that drive customer strategy success.  It allows organization to select a customer strategy software vendor who can actually deliver that organization’s customer strategy business process needs

That brings me back to the topic of Germany’s soccer tournament victory.  Knowing the plays was a part of the German team’s DNA.  The players then executed these plays with excellence.  In an organization, think of the processes as the plays and the Social CRM software as the players.  Get the plays right, then choose and train the best players.

In my next blog post, I will focus specifically on applying business process best practices to create the Social Media component of a successful Social CRM initiative.

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The Definitive Guide to Social CRMBarton Goldenberg, is the founder and president of ISM Inc., customer-centric strategists/implementers serving best-in-class organizations globally. As a CRM leader for 30 years, he was among the first three inductees in the CRM Hall of Fame. Recognized as a leading “customer-focused” author, his latest book, The Definitive Guide to Social CRM, is hailed as the roadmap for Social CRM success. Barton is a popular speaker on “maximizing customer relationships to gain market insights, customers and profits”. He is a long-term columnist for CRM Magazine and frequently quoted in the media.

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