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10 min read

The Holy Quest for CRM in Anytown, USA

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Once upon a time, First Southern Farmers, Merchants & Community Bank & Trust (or FSFMCBT, for short) in Anytown, USA, was renowned for its neighborly charm. When Calvin DoRight founded the bank in 1948, delivering exceptional customer service was his dream.

Fast forward to modern times, when Thomas B. DoRight, Calvin’s son and present-day CEO, realized that the bank’s growth across counties, states and lines of business had made managing relationships much more involved than the ol’ nod to a customer on Main Street in the morning, an approach that had always worked well for his father.

“It’s time we embark on a journey to modernize and invest in a powerful customer relationship management system!” Thomas proclaimed. And the leadership team was excited to hear this news.

This is the part where the story quickly takes a turn.

You see, several of these good-hearted bankers had fallen under the influence of Gerald A. Hoodwink, a suave sales professional from the Big City who convinced them that the bank’s current core system lacked a 360-degree view of the customer and what they desperately needed was his OopsieDaisy CRM solution.

The bankers’ oohs and aahs over the system’s flashy bells and whistles made their way up to Thomas’ desk, and it came to pass that he put pen to paper, signed a contract with OopsieDaisy, and off they went down the road to rolling out an enterprise-wide CRM. At last, realizing his father’s dream of a comprehensive understanding of customers’ interactions, preferences and history across all touchpoints was becoming a reality.

Excitement buzzed through the corridors as Management envisioned more personalized customer interactions and a spike in profits through referral and cross-sell capabilities.

Or so they thought.

Unbeknownst to the bankers of Anytown, OopsieDaisy was notorious for its labyrinthine interface, complex design and track record of promising capabilities that were still “on the roadmap.” Nevertheless, the bankers felt an obligation to move into the future, so on a sunny Tuesday they gathered in the basement training room to begin implementing this powerful new technology.

In record time, the team created a project management office and assigned Six Sigma Black Belt and PMI-certified Patricia Detailio (recently recruited from General Electric) to lead it. Everything was moving along wonderfully until Management’s grandiose dream began to unravel faster than a defaulting construction loan.

The first sign of trouble came during what Patricia’s plan called the “integration phase.” In identifying data to feed the powerful OopsieDaisy platform, it became painfully clear that the bank’s small IT team had been fighting daily fires, leaving them little time to focus on data governance or a strategy to ensure data was correct and standardized across systems.


One day, brave soul Jeremy Overwhelm could stand it no longer and announced at the IT team meeting: “We have no data warehouse! Poor data quality is going to undermine the value of the CRM system! No one will trust the tool! WE NEED TO PAUSE THE PROJECT!”

But Gerald Hoodwink assured the bank that everything was fine, so the team pressed on.

On a cold October morning, doughnuts and coffee were delivered to the basement to kick off the major training phase of the project. Team members were optimistic about their expectations for the new system:

  • Branch staff hoped for prompts for “next-best-product” opportunities
  • Contact center agents and branch bankers expected to see the status of activities they had escalated to other departments
  • Mortgage lenders looked forward to receiving notice of promotions that Marketing sent to customers
  • Commercial bankers wanted to be able to track sales incentives instead of relying on Excel
  • Loan servicing anticipated that updating account information in the CRM system would automatically update to the core system

As the training progressed, Marketing noticed that the system was missing key fields for household reporting. Wealth Management had believed their clients would be included but learned they were to wait until “Phase 3.” Little by little, a quiet grumble became a low growl as staff realized that the OopsieDaisy CRM system was not delivering on its promises.

It became clear that there had been a misunderstanding in Anytown over the past several months. Each department had different use cases that would prove critical to how and why they would use OopsieDaisy. Unfortunately, they had failed to define, prioritize and communicate those use cases.

Meanwhile, Hoodwink pleaded with the bank: “Continue on your quest! Change is for the strong! After all, you’ve signed a 5-year contract. If you just sign these few change orders, I’m sure we can get back on track.” And so sign they did, but when the system finally went live on a snowy day in February, Management’s optimism deflated like an old state fair balloon. Disorder fell upon the bank like the plague of locusts that had descended on Anytown in 1886.


The struggles continued for days, then weeks, then months. The friendly IT department, tasked with maintaining the unholy abomination called OopsieDaisy CRM, resembled a band of weary warriors locked in an eternal struggle against an unbeatable foe. And with little training on the use of the complex system, staff struggled mightily.

A frustrated Management team considered evaluating other CRM systems in the market. However, upon inspection of the contract, CFO Mike Skinflint realized that breaking with OopsieDaisy would result in substantial fees. Their quest toward their holy grail had to continue, no matter how slowly. Disheartened but accepting of their fate, some CRM users built cheat sheets and hung sticky notes alongside their monitors. Others refused to use the system altogether and continued with their old habits.

And so, we arrive at the moral of the story and alas, it’s simply this: A CRM system on its own does nothing.

Customer relationship management is a capability and a culture supported by technology. It involves a culture change that most aren’t prepared to demand, so objectives must be communicated clearly to everyone.

Dear readers, the tale of First Southern Farmers, Merchants & Community Bank & Trust in Anytown, USA, and the OopsieDaisy CRM system leaves behind five valuable lessons that should be remembered for generations to come:

  1. Don’t become excited and sign with the flashiest Gerald Hoodwink. Evaluate multiple vendors side by side to understand the differences in functionality, technology, reputation and support to help build out a cost-benefit analysis.
  2. Listen to staff’s opinions on use cases and then make your prioritization clear. Each department needs different things, which will impact the system’s base functionality.
  3. Negotiate the contract with the entire project in mind (system, support, modification and training), and make sure service level agreements for what the vendor will deliver are clearly defined.
  4. Clean up data well ahead of kicking off a CRM system implementation. Implementing a data warehouse in advance allows you to address data quality issues proactively, improving the reliability and usability of the data for CRM purposes.
  5. Implement a CRM system in phases to slowly build adoption. Start small with a couple of teams to build CRM habits and allow for continuous improvement and feedback to enhance user satisfaction and adoption.

Elizabeth Gujral is a senior consultant at Cornerstone Advisors. Follow her on LinkedIn.

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