Many companies when implementing big Customer Relationship Management (CRM) programs mainly focus on fulfilling the standard steps for CRM success such as installing a state-of-the-art CRM software application, forgetting a more crucial aspect: the “people factor”.

In order to have a successful CRM program, a project manager first has to admit that CRM is more than a system for which success is measured by project milestones alone. Once the real impact of CRM on the business is properly understood, the input of the HR department, which is non-negotiable, would be sought right from the planning stage of implementation.

CRM success lies not only in the delivery of guidelines in the daily contacts between customers and staff but also in the structured and consequent development of the employees in their company lifecycle. Hence, for a sustainable CRM system, its capabilities or values need to be present throughout the HR process: from recruitment and employment to staff development and promotions. These capabilities need to be highlighted during job interviews, reinforced on the job, and enhanced during career development.

This is essential because while it is easy to train employees in technical skills, it is much harder to instill a customer-centric attitude.

It is also important to embed CRM leadership values into HR and this is not only valid for those employees with direct customer contact but also for the whole organisation. Each employee needs to know the importance of the customer and basic CRM reporting figures (how many customers complain to us and why? How many customers do we actually have? What is the loyalty rate of our customers?) to be involved—and not to see the customer as a “black box.”

There have been instances where CRM implementation has been met with employees’ resistance for reasons including fear of changes, unwillingness to increase transparency, and inconvenience of use. According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, the primary reason CRM misses the mark in helping companies increase revenue is that front-line sales professionals and managers rarely find the majority of these capabilities useful in winning more business for the company.

However, with training and implementation facilitated by an experienced consulting firm like Jake Riley, employee adoption and CRM success is guaranteed.