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?