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Take-aways from Gartner, Part 2
20 September 2007, by , in Gartner CRM Summit 2007, No comments

Other posts on the Gartner CRM Summit 2007 can be found here.

According to one of the speakers during the Summit, there are only four possible goals for implementing a new CRM system:

  1. Increase revenue
  2. Decrease costs
  3. Enhance brand
  4. Improve customer loyalty

Based on my experience, I’ve found that most associations implement new association management systems (AMS) to primarily decrease costs and improve customer loyalty.

Decreasing costs: In most cases, this one is pretty obvious. Frequently associations are managing multiple sets of data. As a result, there are inefficiencies (such as redundant data) that result is increased costs to the association (in the form of higher staff costs or increased outsourcing costs). Implementing a new centralized AMS can help reduce these redundancies and decrease costs.

For example, I had a client several years ago to a web-based product which allowed their members to purchase membership online rather than through the mail. That “simple” change resulted in a dramatic reduction in overhead costs to the association, as well as a dramatic increase in turnaround time to member orders. (You can read more about it here.)

Improving Customer Loyalty: This one may not seem as obvious. How can a new AMS improve customer loyalty? The assumption is that the new AMS will allow your staff to better serve the member. Better service should equate to greater customer loyalty. (Certainly the obverse is true: worse service will create poorer customer loyalty.)

So how will a new AMS improve customer service? Presumably your new system will, among other things, provide staff with a “holistic” view of your members and customers, giving staff a complete picture of the individual or organization he or she is working with. This holistic view can allow the staff member to better understand the interactions the customer has had with your association (e.g., they’ve been a member for 12 years, they buy all of our products, they attend every annual meeting, etc.) and can help your organization tailor your message and products for that member or customer. All of this leads to great customer loyalty.

So what’s your reason for implementing a new AMS?

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
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“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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