Customer relationship management

Potential drawbacks of CRM systems


Implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) solution is a great way of making the most of your business assets. However, problems in implementing a CRM can cause major difficulties for your business.

CRM costs

One of the greatest challenges to CRM implementation is cost. There are dozens of software options available and many pricing plans that go with them. To work out the actual costs of CRM software, make sure that you consider the total cost of ownership including:

  • software subscription or purchase fees
  • premium upgrades, eg add-on marketing or reporting features
  • customisation
  • IT resources needed
  • hardware or software requirements
  • staff training and upskilling

Other factors such as data migration and quality, and converting business operations may also affect the total costs of CRM implementation. Proper planning and careful assessment of any potentially hidden costs should help you set a realistic budget for your CRM project.

Business culture

A lack of commitment or resistance to cultural change from people within the company can cause major difficulties with CRM implementation. Customer relationships may break down and result in loss of revenue, unless everyone in the business is committed to viewing their operations from the customers' perspective.

Poor communication

To secure buy-in and make CRM work, all the relevant people in your business must know what information you need and how to use it. Make sure to communicate integration needs in advance if other teams need to cooperate on the implementation, eg payroll staff.

Lack of leadership

Weak leadership could cause problems for any CRM implementation plan. Management should lead by example and push for customer focus on every project. If a proposed plan isn't right for your customers, don't do it. Task your team to come up with a better alternative.

Trying to implement CRM as a complete solution in one go is tempting, but it may prove a risky strategy. It may be better to break your CRM project down into manageable pieces by setting up pilot programs and short-term milestones. A pilot may incorporate all the necessary departments and groups but is small and flexible enough to allow adjustments along the way. Find more tips to help you create your CRM strategy.

Finally, don't underestimate the volume of data your CRM project may generate. Make sure that you can expand your systems if necessary. Carefully consider what data you collect and store to ensure that you only keep the necessary information. Follow the relevant data protection laws and comply with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).