CRM is a management approach – not a pure technology and not a pure system. To this core statement comes the MUUH! Consulting Group in the tenth edition of its annual CRM study. It also shows that every third company is considering replacing the CRM system it has been using to date.

Since the study was launched ten years ago, it has long since become a point of reference for successful customer relationship management, and is now examining the question: What must CRM achieve today and in the future? This year, over 830 CRM decision-makers and users in German companies were surveyed on this topic.

CRM is more than a technology

For more than half of those surveyed, CRM is now a customer-oriented corporate strategy, which is primarily associated with non-technological terms such as customer journey, customer loyalty and transparency. However, the participants are also convinced that the topic must be clearly anchored and promoted in management in order to ensure acceptance in the company and thus success.

Availability of data is often still missing

There is also agreement that data is the basis for information-supported action and is therefore crucial for targeting customers within marketing campaigns. It is therefore all the more surprising that only every second company assumes that the customer data available to it is up-to-date and almost half is convinced that customer information is not exchanged optimally between sales, marketing and service.

This is due on the one hand to the fact that some customer information is simply not available, but on the other hand also to the fact that employees sometimes still lack an understanding of how important data availability and quality are for sustainable business success. It is often the case, however, that although the data is available, it is hidden in the silos of the various company units and a structured analysis is simply impossible. The fact that the topic of data is still difficult for many is also shown by the fact that every second company states that it is still busy implementing the data protection regulation (EU-DSGVO), although the new version came into force more than two years ago.

Existence and use of CRM are two pairs of shoes

In the meantime, 9 out of 10 companies have a CRM system in use, which is mainly used by sales, marketing and service departments. However, there are considerable differences in the use of the systems. While almost 80% of sales employees use CRM for the intended purpose, marketing and service departments, at just over 50%, only moderately exploit the existing potential of the CRM system. This shows that CRM systems are often only introduced from a pure sales focus, without taking into account the possibilities for marketing and service. In order to achieve acceptance throughout the entire company, however, it is absolutely necessary to think intensively about how a complete customer journey and all touch points relevant from the customer’s point of view can be mapped in the CRM before selecting and implementing a CRM system. And this is best done immediately, taking into account the usage requirements of all areas involved in the internal process.

CRM in-house developments come off badly

The CRM market is still highly fragmented. More than 70 different systems are in use among those surveyed – with SAP and Microsoft solutions leading the way. In the financial services industry in particular, it is apparent that in-house developments are widespread due to the complexity of the regulatory framework.

Nevertheless, these solutions in particular perform very poorly in terms of user satisfaction. A Net Promoter Score (NPS) of -48 shows that the expectations of being able to better map one’s own requirements with an in-house developed CRM solution compared to a standard solution were not met.

But also overall it is apparent that many companies are not satisfied with their current CRM system and would not recommend it to others. Every third company is even planning to replace the system they are using. It is noticeable here that the NPS value fluctuates greatly between the different groups of participants. While the average NPS value for top decision-makers is +10, it is slightly to clearly negative for project managers at -6 to -22. This in turn supports the thesis that CRM systems are often introduced without taking into account the needs and requirements of the actual users. It is therefore all the more important to conduct an intensive requirements analysis with all those involved before selecting and introducing a CRM system.

Conclusion: CRM projects are change projects and not pure technology projects

The clear conclusion of this year’s study is that the overall package must be right. In addition to pure functionality of the software, its flexibility and usability, this includes above all the strategic anchoring of the project in the company itself. The project must be driven by top management – as a change project and not just a technology project. Nevertheless, as many future users as possible must be involved in the decision-making process as early as the evaluation phase in order to achieve the greatest possible acceptance within the company. This also pays off in the mapping of your own customer journey – i.e. the touchpoints and processes that your own customers go through. There is still a lot to be done here: only 7% of the companies surveyed have already mapped the customer journey completely in CRM. This is despite the fact that the customer journey is considered one of the most important tools for anchoring customer orientation in the company in a targeted and sustainable manner.

Source for this summary: The CRM Study 2020 | MUUUH! Consulting GmbH, itdesign GmbH, MaibornWolff GmbH, SIEVERS-GROUP.

You can download the detailed study here.