Majority of firms still can’t quantify CRM investments

new_data_414The CRM software market might be booming – with Gartner recently claiming it was worth $48.2bn (£38bn) globally last year – but SMEs are still struggling to work out the return on investment from their applications; with three-quarters of British firms finding it impossible to quantify the value of their CRM spend.

So says the State of the CRM Market 2019 Report from Workbooks, which also shows more than half of SMEs in the UK have changed CRM supplier in the past 12 months.

The research found that the main reason for changing supplier was a poor fit in terms of the business requirements, with 48% of respondents citing this a problem.

Digging deeper, 38% of businesses thought that their chosen CRM system was not able to scale according to their needs. However, the issue of cost was a less significant factor with 28% of respondents having changed CRM software because the cost was too high, the same proportion that switched because their choice did not integrate with other business applications.

Workbooks founder and CEO John Cheney said: “The responses show that there is much to consider when looking at CRM, including business strategy, technology, budget, and change management. A CRM project requires a focus on technology, people and processes; only when all three are in harmony will you truly maximise your ROI.”

However, Cheney also points out that companies often find it difficult to measure ROI as CRM allows them to do things they never could before.

He added: “There is no baseline to compare activity against. Companies can see it has made the business better, but find it difficult to quantify. While it is great that so many SMEs appreciate what CRM brings to their organisations, there does need to be more work to ascertain this value.”

There is widespread appreciation of the benefits of CRM. Even among the 25% of firms which have not yet implemented a CRM system, 46% said that they intended to at some time in the future. Reasons for not adopting CRM included the belief that it would not be an effective way to manage customers or provide value for money.

Interestingly, the primary motivation to implement a CRM platform remains improving productivity of customer facing staff (53%). This is followed by attracting and acquiring new customers (49%), keeping and retaining existing ones (47%), and improving customer experience (42%).

Even so, data migration is the number one obstacle to CRM implementation (44%). Other concerns such as the availability of resources to get things done alongside the day job, or resistance to change among users were mentioned. Only one in ten pointed to a lack of buy-in from leadership or an inability to see the value of CRM as obstacles to overcome.

Commenting on the findings of the report, TechUK programme manager Katherine Mayes said: “Supercharging the adoption of CRM is an important element to the digital transformation of all industries and sectors and key to increasing overall productivity and economic growth across the UK.

“The good news is there continues to be a steady flow of organisations beginning to recognise the value of CRM. However, many that still have not. We must do more to promote the positive benefits and opportunities of CRM technologies while also continuing to identify and overcome remaining concerns and barriers to adoption, such as data migration and user resistance.”

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