Excuses Abound for Avoiding CRM Analytics

When it comes to CRM analytics, companies often make the same mistakes, many of which could be corrected by a change in focus and a better understanding of exactly what CRM analytics is, new research suggests. Improved understanding would lead to better opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling, the key reasons for implementing CRM analytics in the first place.

One of the most common mistakes organizations make is thinking they already perform a comprehensive set of analytics operations for their business when, in fact, they don’t. This is one of the key findings outlined in the research report entitled, “How to Tackle 10 Excuses Not to Invest in CRM Analytics,” authored by Gareth Herschel, research director at Gartner.

The Right Approach

“Often,” Herschel wrote in his report, “this argument is made by unsophisticated audiences who are willing to accept the list of what is already being done rather than considering what other companies are doing or what analysis is already being done within the enterprise, but without the benefit of analytical tools — for example, using focus groups rather than text-mining customer complaints to identify product flaws. Action Item: Overcome this misperception by explaining what analytics can do for an organization.”

He doesn’t mean that all organizations should do all types of analysis, however, he cautioned.

David Lee, CEO of CRM vendor Client Dynamics, agreed. “What happens is — especially large firms do this — they see a list of features and they say ‘I want it all.’ … It’s like living in the North Pole and getting a car with air conditioning. You don’t need it.”

Another item in Herschel’s report is what he calls “the most common barrier of all” to implementing CRM analytics. The item, one of ten top “excuses” for not investing in CRM analytics by enterprises, reads: “We’ve just bought a new operational CRM system and want to get that established first before making any new investments.”

That that kind of thinking doesn’t really make a lot of sense, in Herschel’s view. “The organization is saying ‘we need to get what we do sorted out before we try and understand what it is that we do.'”

Managing expectations may be the biggest indicator of potential success when it comes to making an analytics investment. That’s No. 3 on Herschel’s list: “Employees wouldn’t know what to do with analytics if they had it.”

It’s very important to first identify what analysis is needed and what benefits would be gained by having the analysis, Herschel emphasized. That would not only provide justification for the investment in time and money, it would also ensure buy-in from the users.

Lessons to Learn

That is a lesson that Marquette Group Account Development Manager Stephanie Helland is learning as her firm prepares to implement Client Dynamics’ new Xoom CRM analytics product. One way the analytics engine gathers client data is by doing daily searches on more than 11,000 proprietary sources of content, using customizable keyword searches. With access to this information, account executives can contact clients armed with relevant data that can lead to the cross-selling and upselling opportunities they seek.

Helland doesn’t expect to run into many, if any, of the problems cited in Herschel’s report. Her clients are already asking for the information she knows the analytics piece can get her, she told CRM Buyer, and her experience with Xoom on Demand has indicated to her that learning how to use the data will be a manageable experience.

“I just had one of our brand new clients getting really specific,” Helland said. “He wants to know [which] Web sites are frequented by 25- to 34-year-olds when looking to buy an automobile, and what kind of financing terms they look for, and the likelihood of buying new versus used [cars].”

Herschel emphasized that many organizations put too much focus on doing the analyses and don’t pay enough attention to making sure the data is actually used. The result is that big stacks of thousands of reports sit around for months, and no one ever reads them.

Instead, companies need to think about who needs to have access to which data, and they particularly need to find ways to understand what the data is actually saying.

Herschel’s report lists the following top ten reasons given for steering clear of Web analytics investment. Where does your firm fit in?:

  1. I would like to invest in analytics, but my manager just doesn’t get it.
  2. We tried it, but didn’t get any results.
  3. We tried it, but didn’t get the results we expected.
  4. We’re doing fine without the analytics; why fix what isn’t broken?
  5. We’ve just bought a new operational CRM system and want to get that established first before making any new investments.
  6. Employees wouldn’t know what to do with analytics if they had it.
  7. We are too busy this quarter — maybe in the next planning cycle.
  8. It takes too long to get results.
  9. We already do analytics.
  10. We are totally in need of analytics, but it is someone else’s problem.

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