CRM initiative shows there's no lasting change without buy-in

CRM initiative shows there's no lasting change without buy-in

Projects that sail along smoothly, with no resistance, are great. But it's the ones that throw lots of roadblocks in our way that end up teaching us things.

On the plus side for changing were some simple facts: Our clients' experience with our IT service would improve dramatically, as would IT employees' understanding of their role in providing it, and IT service would improve. The only con we could think of was that until benchmarking was done, clients might see the CRM function as bureaucratic or an additional expense.

Then I made the choice more stark by posing two questions:

  • Which IT service organization would you rather have serve you?

  • Which would you rather work for?

In the end, we had our buy-in; the entire management team fully endorsed the idea of CRM implementation.

As we moved on to execution of the plan, we staffed the CRM team with people proficient in interpersonal communications and consultative skills, and then we kept them focused on critical CRM processes. The client-focused transformation, once begun, was irreversible. Benchmarks gave us a basis for competitive comparisons and continued improvement. Service directory information was in demand the minute it became available. CRM gave rise to outside training initiatives, including industry best practices, for all IT professional staff. IT professionals started to feel more respected and proud of their contribution and value to the enterprise.

As for the "What's in it for me?" question, it gradually answered itself as our desired outcomes began to be achieved. It took a while, but our constant state of reaction was gradually replaced as more time became available to us and we were able to more favorably influence our future. Strategic discussions, previously rare (given the fact that our beepers would never shut up), became routine.

By the way, a key aspect of the CRM unit's communication plan urged the entire management team to get out of our offices much more often to meet with both clients and staff. It was an undeniably good idea, so we all agreed. And guess what. The CRM unit began tracking us to make sure we followed through.

Al Kuebler was CIO at AT&T Universal Card, Los Angeles County, Alcatel and McGraw-Hill and director of process engineering for Citicorp . He also directed the consulting activity for CSC Europe. He is now a general management and IT consultant. He can be reached at

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