When you want to improve your customer service levels for engagement and efficiency, it can be very tempting to look to the generic CRM software platforms available on the market. A quick, ready-to-go implementation may be the right choice for some businesses, but what are the actual risks of going for off-the-shelf CRM software? These are some of the real dangers you should consider.

1. It may not be a strategic fit

One of the main reasons why generic CRM software implementations fail is that there is no strategic alignment between the system and the business. Your main consideration should always be how to maintain the direction and strategy from the top down. Otherwise, you can’t ensure that all parts of the business are aligned and supporting the right business outcomes.

2. It may not be cheaper

For many businesses, particularly smaller or emerging organisations, the price tag of a ready-made CRM system compared to a custom-built one could be the biggest attraction. The development is already done, all you have to do is pay the monthly license and roll it out. However – you will find that there are likely plenty of functions that have little or no value to your business, which you still get charged for and have to navigate around. Meanwhile, there could be applications that you need your CRM to integrate with, today or in the future, which may require you to upgrade or invest in additional technology.

You should also consider the financial impact of changing any existing processes that may need to adapt to fit with the static CRM structure.

3. It may not solve everything

Often when an organisation invests in a new system, there is a general expectation that everything will immediately improve and that all the issues previously experienced should now be a thing of the past. It’s easy to lose sight of the fact that all off-the-shelf CRM software is designed to be generic enough to fit a large number of different businesses. Each business will have its own challenges and problem areas, but the solution can’t possibly address everything. It will be a standard platform that caters for most needs in broad terms, but it will not be anywhere close to meeting every unique need of your organisation.

4. It may be counter-intuitive

One of the major reasons why many CRM implementations fail is because employees don’t like using them. To the individual, it will be obvious that the system is not tailored to their role or their needs as they will often have to jump through several hoops to get the job done. Having a custom platform will limit the number of fields that need to be completed, with the option to add more or fewer parameters in the future.

5. It may not support your brand

As a business, you have to consider a number of factors that all impact your environment’s impression of your brand. Inevitably, some of the most important factors are to do with your customer’s perception and experience of dealing with you. This is where your CRM software really needs to perform. If for example you are trying to position yourself as a modern, global business but your personalised emails can’t display any non-English characters in your customers’ names – you’re sending mixed messages.

6. It may change

Whenever you decide to invest in a generic technology platform, you are effectively placing your business at the mercy of that particular provider. Should they suddenly decide to stop supporting a legacy technology which is crucial to your business, you may end up in a very difficult situation. There could also be changes made to the way certain functions are carried out on the system, which conflict with the boundaries you have set up between different departments and roles in the organisation.

7. YOU may change

We can never fully predict what tomorrow might bring. Although it’s impossible to future-proof everything, we can still attempt to maintain power over as many as possible of the moving parts within the business – particularly those parts that impact our customers, partners and other key stakeholders. When your organisation changes, you want your operations to be able to change with it, without being held back by rigid technology or license agreements.

These are a few of the key reasons why out-of-the-box CRM software often becomes an expensive disappointment. We would always encourage you to explore all the options available to your business before making an informed decision.


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