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CRM Strategy: People

No matter what approach you take to CRM and a strategy around it, it’s clear that people are at the very heart of it. CRM is about relationships between people and strategy is defined, designed and executed by people. Not always the same people but people nonetheless.

Even now with artificial intelligence and machine learning at the top of many agendas, for us and our not-for-profit clients, technology is at its best when it’s combined with humans.

When it comes to creating a CRM strategy it’s vital that the people who put it together invest in stepping out of their current role to consider their organisation as a whole, what it wants to achieve and who will be the measure of its success.

For our not-for-profit clients, the absolute focus of their work is on members, supporters, donors, students, visitors and beneficiaries. Whilst their CRM strategy may be centred on how their organisation can develop lasting relationships with these audiences, it comes down to how to create a connection between people.

Having developed a strategy, it is then down to people to implement it. In all probability, there will be an element of improved use of technology. That may be about getting more from current systems, implementing new solutions, or just connecting the existing ones, again it comes back to technology enabling people to do different things or to do things differently.

One of the mantras of digital transformation within not-for-profits is, or should be, “automate the information to make time for the conversation” because we know that to be at its best an organisation deploys technology to support people, to enable them to be their best, to give them time to have human interactions with other people.

As I read elsewhere recently, people are not only the cause of many of the problems we face, we are most certainly the likely candidates to provide the solutions.

If our pie was a homemade bake then people would be the filling, at the very centre.

CRM Strategy: Communication

For a CRM Strategy to succeed it takes a lot of people to have a clear understanding of the strategy, its purpose and their role in delivering it. Being able to clearly communicate the strategy itself to a wide range of audiences plays a significant role in the strategy’s success.

The strategy will need to be communicatied in person, to large groups, to small teams and to specific individuals. It will also need to be shared in writing, probably in long-form for those who need to see substance and detail, by email to those who want to see headlines and summaries, and then potentially via a number of different digital channels.

With this challenge to face it’s appropriate to use specialists to put in place a full communications plan, to develop clear and specific messaging for each audience and each channel, and potentially for each strand of the strategy. This will help to ensure that the core messages are agreed and prioritised in a consistent manner, and that more detailed information is available to support all of the headlines and themes used across the piece.

The final point to remember is that communication in terms of a CRM Strategy is not about a one-way transmission of ideas and actions, it needs to be bi-directional; those defining and describing the strategy have to be receptive to every comment, challenge, critique and piece of feedback available to them. Every response, whether positive or negative, is valuable; what’s more it needs to be seen to be valued, and this is delivered by responding to it, publicly, so that at a minimum everyone who heard or was party to the feedback gets to hear and see the response.

Achieving this level of two-way communiction will underpin buy-in and support from everyone who has a part to play in successful delivery of the strategy, and from a lot of other people too!

CRM Strategy: Vision

One clear distinction between tactical, operational planning and the development of a Strategy is to be found within the need for a Strategy to contain a Vision. The Vision lifts you from the tactical to the strategic and is driven by what you want to accomplish.

Vision speaks to what an organisation wants to become, where it’s aspirations lie and it needs to meets various standards. As Miller & Dess stated, a Vision is defined as a “category of intentions that are broad, all-inclusive and forward thinking”.

It has to be challenging and ambitious enough to be inspirational, to take you above daily and operational issues, and to reveal a true determination to shape the essential characteristics of your organisation

It has to be realistic enough to offer a genuine prospect of success, flexible enough to not be undermined by slow progress or early shortfalls.

It has to be tangible enough to be able to be achieved and updated in the future, but it has to be future-proofed enough to expect to have a life expectancy of five years or more.

It has to be optimistic to paint a picture of a successful future

As shown above, Strategic Vision is a statement of purpose, which provides guidance and inspiration to staff, members, supporters and everyone involved. It sets a tone for them to understand the importance of the strategy and provides an ambition for them to buy in to.

In action, the Vision sets a marker for activities to be related to and for success to be measured against.

The Vision itself demonstrates executive commitment to a particular direction, and can therefore be used to develop momentum for change. Where tactics and plans may have more obvious tangible outcomes, the inclusion of Vision within a CRM Strategy is key to elevating the perception of what you’re setting out to achieve.