Can CRM Technology Conquer All CRM Challenges?

We've already visited the multiple meanings of CRM, so we know that CRM can mean many things. The real question is whether CRM technology can bring order to chaos in customer-focused functions. Despite what the CRM vendors say, the answer is a clear no: CRM tools by themselves do not solve customer management problems. Indeed, many companies with excellent systems for managing customer interactions use very simple tools, and moreover their tools may be a little behind the times. They don't try to automate all customer interactions. They don't put either the tool or even the process at the center of things. Instead, they define processes around customer needs and they position the CRM tools as aids to the telemarketer, sales rep, or support rep, offloading routine tasks such as generating and approving quotes, checking order status, or tracking support inquiries. You can be successful at managing customer relationships with minimal tools. Successful CRM projects recognize that the tool is only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing customers. The tool needs to model and support a reasonable process, whether the process pre-dates the tool or, more likely, the process is reshaped to match both the existing environment and the technology. But the tool does not dictate the way the process works, either for the customer or for the internal user. As a consequence, there is no one perfect tool out there that will fit every need. A tool that functions well in one environment may not fit another with different requirements. Think for instance of how a good business-to-consumer sales tool would fail in a business-to-business selling environment. And even a perfectly well suited tool can be implemented poorly and therefore fail to meet the goals. A simple example of that would be a clumsy custom user interface on an otherwise well-designed app. CRM technology is only one piece of the larger CRM challenge. There is no magic tool that will handle all customer management issues in and of itself.