Strategic planning is used in many ways. When I was in commercial banking years ago, one bank I worked for had a department called Strategic Planning. I was inclined to make a move to this area because I thought they were involved in mergers and acquisitions and other strategic corporate initiatives. In fact, the day to day activities were more closely tied to event planning than anything else. Event planning?

When it comes to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), the strategic planning process relates to the alignment of your business focus to the needs of your customers. Since most businesses focus on their own needs, this can be a challenge. What I mean by that is that most businesses focus on the need to meet a sales quota for a certain product within a specific time frame. Is that what your customer needs? It’s a tough change to make when you can’t tie your results to periodic account measures as neatly; but it can certainly have a huge impact on potential value of existing customers as they become more loyal. After all, it’s far less costly to keep customers than it is to constantly find new ones.

Strategic Planning Process Overview

As you develop your strategic plan for CRM, you need to always yourself “how does this add value to my customer and in turn add value to my company”? But you also need to keep the following things in mind:

  • Identify the financial goals of your business
  • Identify the risks of this initiative, both short and long term
  • Identify what you will measure, how you will measure it and how you will evaluate the results.
  • Identify how you will use your results to make the appropriate changes to your initiative over time

The strategic planning process can be a lengthy one, and there are risks, especially with change management issues. As a result, even companies who “get it” with regard to customer-centricity don’t take the steps to change their business. For those who do, success comes by going through a series of planning stages. Here’s an example:

  • Develop your Customer Focused Strategic Plan Realign your Front Office work flows, and information flows, with effective business process mapping
  • Realize that effective change management is critical to getting a high user adoption rate not only for software use, but the customer focused way of doing business in general
  • Make sure you provide good customer service and collect the data you need to help other functional parts of your business.
  • Develop an effective customer relationship marketing program to acquire new customers but, more importantly, keep your existing customers
  • When all of this is done, then it’s time to select CRM software that meets your requirements.