Building 360 customer relationships

My blog normally contains ticks & trips about Microsoft Dynamics CRM. But this time i could not stop penning down an experience of my very good friend who has been in the field of consulting for quite some time. We meet after very long time and this particular project experience that he shared touched my heart. So decided to share it through my blog in case someone finds it useful.

As a Microsoft Dynamics CRM consultant, many of you must have already been associated with a project where your client management has decided to move their existing CRM system to Microsoft Dynamics CRM. And so here was my friend in another client location to implement MSCRM. The client was already running its business on some other CRM system and the management has decided to move from existing CRM system to MSCRM.

So they had all the requirements chalked out, tasks broken, iterations decided. My friend was supposed to sit with the client’s IT team and implement the modules with their co-operation. Everything seemed great.On the first day when he was introduced to their IT team, everyone in the room welcomed him with a big smile. Month in the job and he could sense an air of tension in the atmosphere. Somehow he could not attach himself self to the team and vice-versa. Every time he approached for any discussions or confusions, he could not feel great about the interactions that he normally had during my other engagements with other clients. Rather than pondering and making guesses about the possible reasons, he decided to talk it out. There was this senior programmer in their IT Team, very dedicated, experienced sitting just behind his cubicle. Hesitantly he walked up to him and asked – “Can we talk over a coffee?”. With a big smile he returned – “Sure. My pleasure.”

So they went out to the break-out area and started chatting, discussing about our family and stuff. And then without further beating around the bush, my friend came straight to the point and explained to him that only with collaboration between client and consultant team, they can deliver successfully a complex project like the one they were having. And also the fact that all this time he  haven’t been able to strike chord and work as a team towards achieving a common goal. He explained to him how eager he was to deliver this project successfully and how much this means to him and he wanted to understand whether he was missing something from his part.

Although initially hesitant, after gradual interactions the senior guy finally spoke up. He explained that the company’s decision to shift from existing CRM system was a sudden one and their team was not prepared to take it up. Hence business decided for external consultants to implement the same. Also  my friend could realize from what he told that there are so many developers/ consultants who have passionately worked with the technology for so many years. And now all of a sudden business is asking them to shift to a new technology altogether. My friend could realize that many of them were also in fear of losing their job once MSCRM system rolls out.

You might say that change is the only constant in this world and yet we can’t deny the fact the as humans we have a tendency to be in our comfort zone in every sphere of our life. And all this has made my friend an adversary rather than a productive member of the client team. All that happened till now started seeming logical to him.

So he decided to stay in course of his task but he took a slightly different approach. He started interacting proactively with the client team members whenever he got a chance, to break the ice a bit. He initially took up 2-3 members, started interacting with them heavily and while understanding their existing CRM system, he would note down their strengths and likeness and whenever he got a chance he opened up MSCRM to show them how the same thing can be achieved with the new technology without much difficulty. Every now and then he would take a very small requirement and draw an analogy to compare how similar their existing system is to MSCRM. In short he wanted to instill in them the idea that migrating from what they were doing to what they would be doing isn’t going to be that difficult.

Thankfully by GOD’s grace, his efforts started showing up. Those 2-3 team members started sharing their experiences with other team members. It worked like word of mouth or ‘zero dollar’ marketing for him. Now instead of he going over to their desk, they started coming over to him sharing their ideas, asking questions and explaining him about their existing system.

As my friend ended, I asked him if the project was delivered successfully? He replied with a big and long YES and till this time he agrees that without the client’s IT Team help, it would not have been possible. And yes that zero dollar marketing helped his company bag another project from the same client.

Thought of sharing my friend’s experience because personally I have seen many times while implementing big projects, we kind of overlook this situations. Management level decisions helps us in making a deal but many a times those decisions does not go well down the levels in the client company. Many might argue that it’s a problem with the client’s management and I can’t agree more. But as per my friend if he would not have tried to pacify the situation like he did there, he would not have been able to deliver the project like he did which would have been damaging for both the client and my friend’s company. And moreover with that result, the repeat business from the client would have been a distant dream.

So who is our customer? Is it only the Management who might have decided to engage us or is it the client’s entire employee tree from top to the roots who is in someway associated with it. Well i believe in the latter. I do not recommend my friend’s experience as a winning formula but it might certainly help you in these kind of situations. As my friend quoted by twisting a famous saying – “Don’t make a sale but make happy customer family.”

Till then you read one more of my blog posts, happy consulting 🙂

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