Contrasting 2 CRM Design Types: Enabling and Constraining

Thinking about how the CRM system user creates relationship value

In any CRM implementation project there can be many administrative processes requiring different amounts of data and having different levels of complexity. Choosing the right CRM type that helps staff create the relationships and relatedness that is required is not a trivial matter. The relatedness that is created in the perceptions of customers at the interface is in the human elements of the transactions. CRM should not compromise this.

‘Programmed Process’ CRM Works; But Not for Everyone

Where process compliance is vital however, where data reference volumes are high and where processes are complex, the CRM screens must be designed to constrain staff to follow process and enter the required data. All processes need to be designed by business analysts and committed to code by software development teams. ‘Programmed process’ CRM is a significant investment but it works. This constrained-mode of interaction can be perceived as pedestrian, clunky and time-consuming to the point of compromising some of the spontaneity of staff. This compromise issue needs to be understood by designers and management alike.

Enabling-Type CRM Designs Focus on Ease of Use

At the other end of the customer/stakeholder transaction spectrum, there are interface type jobs that have simple processes, and low reference data needs. In a job where the staff member’s actions are not derived from screen forms but from professional experience and qualifications, a multi-screen call-centre-type CRM design does not work. Such jobs incorporate freedom of action and high levels of personal accountability. Choosing an ‘enabling-type’ design means that the department can become self-sufficient in process evolution and maintenance.

These are to be found in Marketing, PR, Sales, and professional services. Highly intelligent and professionally qualified staff need a special kind of CRM design. They need their CRM application support to be less constraining, and less procedural. They need something that gives them scope to be more self-managing, more spontaneous, more empathetic and follow standards based on experience rather than screen-based processes. The user interface needs to be intuitive, uncomplicated, with minimum screens and minimum mouse clicks. An ‘enabling-type’ of CRM is needed to deliver this.

Examples of overly controlling ‘programmed process’ CRM project failures are everywhere. A one-size-fits-all implementation of a ‘does everything’ CRM rollout is a regular feature. Using a central proces team of Business System Analysts and programmers tents to be expensive and from the users’ point of view, unresponsive. When forced to accept ‘constraining’ CRM, self-managing professionals resent the ‘admin-drag’ of screens slowing down their work. System failure can arise without warning when staff find ‘programmed-process’ CRM too much of a chore and as a result, occasionally omit to enter the data. 

Mixed-Estate CRM is Here To Stay;

In the commercial sector and now in higher education, organisations are recognising that the job, the person and how they naturally work, determines the degree to which a new CRM enhances working effectiveness. Until recently a one-size-fits-all CRM strategy has been seen as prudent, but no longer. JI Software and JI Management Consultants will be publishing white papers exploring why less complex, enabling-type CRM solutions must now be part of a mixed CRM portfolio. Greater thought to data architecture and corporate analytics will be needed. The management challenges of Mixed-Estate CRM are real; the penalties of inappropriate Single-Estate CRM are available for all to see.