Reason Why 63% of CRM Initiatives Fail

New CRM initiatives currently have a 63% fail rate, according to a new study by Merkle Group Inc. For anyone considering CRM this is quite a scary statistic, although not surprising, when you consider the number of that barriers that face organisations implementing a new CRM system or updating their current one. These barriers include; Lack of employee buy-in, unclear business objectives, lack of long term strategy, unclear about data requirements and companies often buy systems that are not fit for their specific business requirements. These are just a few examples of barriers that face organisations considering CRM. It is of the utmost importance for companies thinking about investing in CRM to fully understand CRM what it can do and the level of commitment required to make it a success, along with the possible pitfalls and the steps required to avoid them. This article will focus on how a lack of managerial experience, and knowledge of how to approach CRM properly can cause major issues for companies who try to implement CRM without heeding this advice.

Keys to Success

In order for a CRM project to be a success, it is imperative that all levels of the organisation buy into it from the very start. This needs to be a top to bottom process, where top level management illustrate the benefits of implementation to the rest of the organisation, in terms of;
• Why there is a need for CRM in the first place.
• How it will enable the end users to increase their productivity
• How it will helps the organisation as a whole
• How it will remedy current pain points

Areas that require Understanding

When an organisation is implementing a new CRM system or updating their current one, there is a lot of information required before selecting a system that can cater to an organisations specific business needs and data requirements. Managers need to have an in-depth understanding of their customer’s buying cycle, current pain points that end users are experiencing, and the data they need to harvest in order to meet the needs of their customers more effectively.

Lack of Managerial Experience in CRM

When top level management do not have the knowledge required to approach CRM implementation properly, it will be impossible for them illustrate the benefits to the rest of the organisation, which means that they are essentially setting themselves up for failure. Many managers view CRM as a glorified address book, and in order for CRM implementation to be successful this outlook has to change as it will inevitably permeate down through the organisation to the end users. If management approach a CRM initiative without researching the full spectrum of benefits that a correctly tailored, implemented and maintained system with full stakeholder buy-in can provide in relation to their specific business objectives, they will have difficulty achieving a satisfactory ROI in a reasonable timeframe.

Management Need to Understand Customer Buying Cycle

An issue that many managers face is that they do not understand the buying cycle of their customers to the required depth. David Ciccarelli, cofounder and CEO of says “to solve this problem, organizations should sketch out a workflow diagram that depicts the customer life cycle.” This visual tool will aid in not only customizing your CRM but fully taking advantage of its functionality.

Management Need to Understand CRM

It is imperative that management take the time to fully understand CRM and how it can benefit them in terms of achieving their business objectives and their staff in terms of how it makes their life less stressful thus enabling them to increase productivity. The process of acquiring this knowledge may not be as straight forward as some managers’ think. In order to drill down to the necessary depth managers need to engage in an on-going dialogue with front line staff, Chris Fritsch, CRM consultant and owner of CLIENTSFirst Consulting states that “To succeed with CRM, organizations should get end users actively involved before even looking at systems.” This dialogue may take some time to put in place, and significant commitment from staff at all levels to maintain, however it is an integral part of CRM implementation and if done correctly will pay dividends down the line.
Management Need to Understand Front Line Needs Pain points
If an organisation is implementing a new CRM or updating an existing one, it is crucial to understand the areas where their front line staff are experiencing issues or areas where they could be better supported. It is one of the main jobs of an effectively implemented CRM system to enable users to focus 100% on the job at hand, as opposed to getting round the flaws in their current CRM system that is simply not fit for purpose.


There is a lot of legwork that needs to be done before implementing a CRM solution. If this legwork is not done properly, it is likely that you will add to the 63% of companies that fail. However, if the necessary steps are taken to get to grips with what CRM can actually do and how it can be tailored to your organisation, your customers and your staff, it is likely that you will become part of the 37% of companies that enjoy a great ROI, increased staff productivity and customer satisfaction. Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a fantastic tool, which can provide companies with the necessary tools to turn data into profit.

New EU Data Protection law: a blow-by-blow guide to dealing with it

Data Protection Law is something every CRM marketer comes up against, and in 2016 another tranche of bills will pass into law – affecting all 28 EU member states, including the UK.

While perhaps needlessly complex (like much European Union legislation!) it’s not as hard as you think. Here’s how it matters to you… with some of the good outcomes at the end.

First, the big one:

1. User consent must be explicit, not implied

Many EU businesses follow an American model where data protection is involved: consumers will be sent marketing communications unless they specifically opt out.

For EU businesses (and those doing business in the EU) that will be illegal.

In the next 12-18 months (the legislation is being introduced gradually – but not that gradually!) all EU businesses will be required to collect, record, and retain explicit proof that everyone on their mailing lists explicitly opted-in to receive marketing communications outside the topic of immediate interest.

(In other words, “ham” emails – essential stuff like transaction confirmations and billing – are allowed, but following on the next day with an up-sell or cross-sell offer is not, unless that customer explicitly said Yes to it.)

This is a fundamental difference between US and EU law. Since much CRM software hails from the US, this can create problems. Your CRM professional can advise on the right policies to adopt to stay the right side of the law.

2. Opening an account does not grant consent

You might think opening a user account is an explicit opt-in. Think again. According to the DMA, simply providing an email address or other data does not confer any right on the marketer to make further use of it.

As a case from retailer John Lewis shows, even a pre-selected “Yes, I’d like to receive emails” in your signup process doesn’t satisfy all requirements for openness and transparency. Your customer must explicitly select (no pre-ticks!) from a clear choice, without having to deal with long-winded T’s and C’s.

3. Penalties become much more defined

While there have been a few big cases, most EU Data Protection violations have been small-scale and settled without recourse to the courts. The new laws, however, allow for fines of up to 100 million Euros – and passed with overwhelming support in the EU Parliament.

Furthermore, there’s no get-out clause for honest mistakes. An individual consumer will be able to sue for privacy violations: that single email your marketing department sent in error could carry consequential risk running into the millions.

4. To avoid a repeat, you’ve got to delete

The “right to be forgotten” you’ve heard about in the news is at heart simple: if a consumer wants his/her data deleted from your servers and you have no legitimate reason to retain it, it’s time to say goodbye.

For many CRM marketers, deleting user data is anathema – in fact, some CRM applications don’t even allow it! Ask your CRM partner where your stand: they’ll be able to find a legally valid solution.

5. Being based outside the EU is no excuse!

Just as a great many EU companies have to satisfy American reporting requirements as a cost of doing business in the USA, any non-EU business that touches EU citizens falls within the scope of the new EU data laws.

It’s unclear how enforceable this will be, but pay attention if you outsource customer data (particularly security in the cloud) to countries with different legal regimes to the EU. They may be applying policies that don’t fit the new requirements.

But there’s some good news…

It’s not all red tape – particularly if you have under 250 employees. Savvy CRM marketers may even be able to turn the new EU data laws to their advantage! Are you one of them?

For instance, the requirement to appoint a named individual as your data protection czar (what SME can afford that?) is going away across all 28 states. Same goes for the impact assessments and notification fees some countries demand. And the long arm of the law, if it knocks at your door, applies EU-wide: you won’t have to deal with 28 investigations for a single alleged offence.

Overall, the new legislation does what it says on the tin: makes life harder for spammers, and smoothes the playing field across the EU’s single market of 350m people. And for many CRM-using businesses, that’ll be a good thing.


  • Check for consent: it must be explicit, not implied
  • The right to be forgotten applies to your database as much as Google’s
  • Fines start with a single offence and go up to 100 million Euros
  • The good news: EU Data Protection Law is now the same EU-wide

EU Data Protection Laws start with securing your customer data – and there’s no better way to start than with The ultimate guide to: security in the cloud


Charities have been encouraged to make sure they are using their various data sets effectively.

According to Peter Watson, information and systems manager at youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, good data management is “essential”, as it enables third sector bodies to understand their users’ needs and the impact of their work.

He acknowledged that getting to grips with large quantities of information can be “daunting and overwhelming”. However, he told the Guardian there are a number of ways in which they can make sense of it and use it in a constructive way.

For instance, Mr Watson said that once organisations have built up a significant body of data, they can analyse it and use it to group data into categories.

This, he stated, would enable them to find out relevant trends and patterns that could prove invaluable when it comes to improving services and determining future policy and research activities.

Identifying recurring themes could also help charities manage their relationships with supporters, clients, partners and stakeholders more effectively, with each group receiving targeted and relevant communications.

Mr Watson went on to insist that if a charity puts a data management system in place, it must make sure every member of staff knows how to use it properly.

“Systems are only as good as the people who use them, so charities need to support staff in recording data and running reports,” he commented.

“Support can happen at staff induction, in training, through telephone support and clear written guidance.”

Mr Watson added that any data management system must be reviewed on a regular basis, so charities can work out how useful it is and if improvements could be made.

He stated that getting feedback from stakeholders and system users would be one good way to see if the system is delivering results, as the findings could prompt an organisation to “improve existing fields and add new fields if necessary”.

If you’re planning to invest in CRM, the conditions need to be right for it to succeed. Download our free white paper to learn how to optimise your system.

Customer engagement white paper

Many businesses use content marketing as a means of engaging with their customers, using the information they have gathered to create targeted and relevant material, such as articles, blogs, infographics and videos.

However, digital marketing specialist Stephanie Miller has insisted that if a company wants to use its content to create "amazing customer experiences" and build brand loyalty, it must make sure it ticks four boxes, reports ClickZ.

Firstly, she believes people must understand what data marketers are using to create their content and how using it can provide them with greater value.

Secondly, Ms Miller suggested that brands avoid using content just for the sake of it, as it must be the right content and distributed on an appropriate platform at the right time.

She then advised firms to remember that customers are people and "not just CRM records". Ms Miller said bearing this in mind can reap lots of benefits, as it enables customers to enjoy positive and relevant experiences.

This, she stated, in turn encourages people "to share and meet each other, which has an additive effect on total value".

Finally, Ms Miller said that unless companies have gathered customer insights from data, they must "rely on generic responses which never feel engaging".

"Personalised communications work smarter towards brand loyalty," she commented.

Ms Miller went on to note that research has demonstrated how content is more sought after by customers than special offers.

For example, she said many people want retailers to provide information on how they can achieve their lifestyle goals.

"This suggests that marketing engagement will be more than just what is on sale and must include relevant content like a recipe or white paper or fun fact or tip of the day," Ms Miller remarked.

She added that social sharing trends back up this observation, as when a discount code is shared online, people typically talk about their brand engagement and how they personally have used the product that is being promoted.

Click here to learn more about how CRM can improve engagement levels.

Customer engagement white paper

The potential big data mine that many UK firms are sitting on will be of no use unless chief information officers (CIOs) and marketing experts are given the tools they need to analyse it, a new report has suggested.

According to a new study from Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), 41 per cent of British CIOs agree that current IT processes are impacting organisations’ ability to leverage data to drive growth.

Only 11 per cent of respondents felt they have enough access to business leaders to gain the traction they need to develop investment in new technology.

CRM software could be one solution for firms that are unsure how to utilise the data they are gaining about customers and buyers, but only if they have the cash needed to invest in this type of infrastructure.

Some 73 per cent of UK companies are not currently mining untapped intelligence, missing out on potentially useful guidance or predictions, HDS revealed.

Hicham Abdessamad, executive vice-president of global services at the firm, said: “UK organisations can accelerate business growth and competitive advantage by aligning IT with business strategy.”

“‘IT-accelerated’ businesses use technology as a strategic asset, helping them to derive intelligence and mobilise information, [and] enabling them to be more competitive.”

Companies that can draw on a host of different data streams to produce actionable insights will be able to find new sources of revenue, particularly as the economy begins to recover from its former malaise, concluded the HDS vice-president.

Some 90 per cent of CIOs agreed to some extent with the proposition that traditional approaches to IT are stopping companies from getting everything they could out of their big data processes.

While the initial investment can be expensive, putting off many executives, spending on software such as CRM is likely to be easily offset by the new leads it creates as long as it is implemented and utilised properly.

As many other companies begin to take this step, others may need to get involved simply so they are not left behind by their rivals.

Chief executives, chief marketing officers and IT heads can all agree on one thing – the importance of utilising high-quality data to make decisions, with this process becoming increasingly central to many UK businesses on a cross-departmental basis.

This was highlighted through a recent global report from Experian Data Quality, which found that an impressive 99 per cent of companies understand the importance of an information analysis strategy.

“Data is the oil that keeps the business cogs turning and like oil, data must be broken down and refined in order to extract value,” explained the study.

Common issues and errors are having an impact on the quality of information utilised by companies, despite their awareness of the potential benefits well-managed data can offer.

Some 44 per cent of respondents suggested that missing or incomplete data is their biggest problem, while 41 per cent think outdated contact information is causing them the most issues.

Worryingly, 86 per cent of firms expressed the feeling that their information could be wrong in some way.

British businesses are wasting almost £200 million a year on processing or attempting to act on poor-quality data, according to Experian.

As multi-channel strategies and other complications make the cost of these mistakes more pronounced, it is vital that companies take steps to ensure they are dealing with information effectively and weeding out as many errors as possible.

The core cause of data errors varies – issues cited by respondents include the possibility of human error, poor internal communications, lack of resources and inadequate strategising.

While it cannot address all of these problems, CRM software can help companies that are struggling to manage and analyse their information by centralising its location and ensuring staff in all departments can access it.

Firms that want to improve customer satisfaction and behave more efficiently could see a great deal of value from investing in such a system.

Click here to find out how Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help make your operation more streamlined.

As the computer age develops and increasingly sophisticated mobile devices make it easier for consumers to get online while out and about, the amount of consumer data available to businesses has grown.

However, not all firms are well-placed to create actionable insights from this glut of information, particularly if they lack the talent or technology to do so.

According to a new report from Blackbaud and nfpSynergy, nearly 57 per cent of UK not-for-profits are struggling to release the inherent potential within big data.

Azadi Sheridan, Blackbaud Europe's product manager, admitted that the sheer amount of information gathered through modern fundraising activities can be difficult to manage.

"Data can be invaluable for fundraising and marketing, but not-for-profits must be able to analyse that data to get the maximum value from it. Not utilising social media data is a major missed opportunity to better understand supporters," he added.

Only 30 per cent of respondents felt they were doing a good job when it comes to combining data and fundraising, with 70 per cent recognising that there is untapped potential in this area.

Almost half of not-for-profit companies were capable of integrating digital data into their CRM systems, making them less effective – just 15 per cent were able to utilise their social media in this way.

The charities responding seemed to agree that the inability to utilise their data is having an impact on their engagement with potential fund-givers and supporters, highlighting the need for not-for-profits to develop expertise in this area.

Jo Graham, nfpSynergy's research director, pointed out that technology is clearly important but warned that resources remain a major issue for charities.

"Data is key to modern fundraising and the findings in the Data Driven Fundraising report suggest that not-for-profits are aware of this but need help unlocking the true potential of that data," she added.

According to a new study from IBM, high-performing chief marketing officers (CMOs) are excelling in their role by bringing together external and internal data to generate insights and leads within their company.

The report is based on findings from face-to-face conversations with more than 500 CMOs from across the globe. It found that 84 per cent anticipated advanced analytics playing a major role within their sector over the coming years, helping them reach their goals.

Worryingly, however, there appears to be a widespread consensus that organisations are not yet ready to take advantage of the so-called data explosion.

Some 82 per cent of respondents expressed this concern, compared to 71 per cent three years before. 

"After speaking with CMOs around the world, it became evident that more companies across all industries are striving to integrate their physical and digital presence in order to provide a more integrated, seamless customer experience," said John Kennedy, marketing vice-president of IBM's Global Business Services division.

The survey identified three 'types' of CMOs – traditionalists, social strategists and digital pacesetters. As well as being more likely to adopt CRM technology and integrate their data, the latter grouping proved to be more financially efficient than their counterparts.

Another aspect of the report suggested that marketing chiefs are becoming central parts of their organisation, with 63 per cent involved in formulating their company's overall business strategy. 

IBM declared that this is making it more important for marketing experts to engage with data and analytics and convey that information to the rest of the C-suite.

The study also found that when a CMO has a close working relationship with the chief information officer, the enterprise is more likely to perform better overall.

Utilising CRM technology can make it easier for businesses to form these kind of connections, because it allows firms to make their analytic data available to everyone rather than simply to a handful of experts.

For all the buzz around the potentially game-changing impact of big data analysis on the business world, the hyperbole has not always been matched up with a coherent, clear-eyed examination of the tangible benefits this process can offer.

Addressing this deficit was one of the aims of business innovation charity Nesta when releasing its latest report, entitled Inside the Datavores.

Its study revealed that companies that collect, analyse and deploy customer data become eight per cent more productive as a result, meaning some degree of investment in this area is clearly justified.

Businesses that perform deeper analyses of their data see a boost in profits of £3,180 per employee, Nesta revealed.

Furthermore, it is crucial that this information is spread throughout the company rather than simply left as the preserve of marketers or tech experts, as organisations that empower workers to act on the data they gather benefit four times as much as those which do not.

Nesta highlighted a number of ways in which the data market is evolving and maturing. Real-time analysis is becoming more common, while variety is also increasing – firms are dealing with many different kinds of information about sales processes and consumers.

“As a result, data has passed from being a modest and oft-discarded by-product of firms’ operations to become an active resource with the potential to increase firm performance and economic growth through ‘data-driven decision making’, and data-driven goods and services,” the study suggested.

The Nesta paper analysed the performance of 500 medium-sized British firms to reach its conclusion, which appears to largely back up the claims made by business analysts across the globe in support of big data analysis.

While it is undeniably vital for firms to have the right staff in place to cope with this influx of information and turn it into actionable guidance when it comes to marketing or targeting consumers, technology can also help with managing the flow of data.

For instance, CRM software can ensure that some of this process is automated, reducing the strain when it comes to hiring analytics or administrative staff.