After over two decades of designing, building, and deploying Customer Relationship Management (“CRM”) and Customer Engagement (“CE”) systems, I have found recurring themes on what makes some projects more successful than others.  Through years of consulting at the school of hard knocks, I developed this approach by studying Lean Manufacturing practices and leading successful Agile Software Development projects.

Staying consistent with Customer Engagement Success, Part 1, I’ll use the newer term Customer Engagement (“CE”) to refer to either CRM or CE projects.  This is the 2nd blog of the two-part series and will focus on the “Wheel of Change” (outer green circle) of my Customer Success graphic. The graphic below illustrates some simple ideas that have helped drive success in CE projects throughout my career.

customer engagement

Small Steps

The first section of the Wheel of Change is “Small Steps,” but what do I mean by “Small”?  The answer is relative to the size of your overall project.  For a large Enterprise CE Project, a small step may be an MVP that can be deployed to provide Value for early adopters.  For a mid-market Project, a small step may be a 90-day sprint to deploy CE to a regional Sales Team.

The important thing is to break down your project into iteration steps or phases to deploy value to your users.  The exact size of your “Small Step” will depend on your project.  In most cases, a small step will be between 30 and 120 days in length.  Any longer, and you start pulling unnecessary risk into the project.  Risk can take many forms and will include:

  • Business needs will shift over time, giving you a moving target.
  • Project momentum and user enthusiasm decrease over time without a deliverable.
  • Project scope, complexity, and cost will increase with time.


Value & Benefit

The second section of the Wheel of Change is “Value and Benefit.”  Value is the tangible thing that will result from the completion of the iteration.  You can measure (projected) Value typically in dollars. Increased revenue resulting from improved Sales execution or reduced cost from streamlined Customer Service or Field Service processes would both be good examples of Value.

Where “Value” is related to dollars, “Benefit” is related to people.  Successful CE projects need to focus on producing a benefit to the people that will be using them.  Benefit is harder to measure with a number but can be easily identified.  Putting logic in place to safeguard data integrity will help a user pull up customer records faster – OR – having the system automatically send out a text confirmation after an Order is placed are both excellent examples of Benefits.  When looking for something that will produce Benefit, just ask around.  What are the 1 or 2 things that people hate or find cumbersome?  Fix those issues, and you will create Benefit.

Clearly understanding the Value and Benefit will add fuel to the success of a CE Project.  Once understood, it is imperative to publicize the success to project stakeholders and your users.  Take your victory lap and do your endzone dance. You have earned it!  Your executive team needs to see the Value and Benefit to continue investing in your project’s success.


Constant Improvement

The third section of the Wheel of Change is “Constant Improvement.”  Industry has shown that companies that embrace a strategy of constant improvement do significantly better than stagnant companies or ones that try to implement significant sweeping changes.  A well-established term, KAIZEN, embodies continuous improvement or “Change for the Better.”

Unlike Accounting or ERP systems, Customer Engagement systems constantly evolve and change rapidly to keep pace with your competition.  By focusing on Constant Improvement, you will find ways to improve customer experience and engage employees and stay competitive over the long haul.

The idea of Constant Improvement completes the circle and ties everything together.  Here are 7 steps to get you started thinking about Constant Improvement in your company.

  1. Know your Customer.
  2. Develop a culture of Change.
  3. Improve communication.
  4. See what is working.
  5. Measure outcomes.
  6. Celebrate success.
  7. Plan your next step.

And don’t forget, the point of Constant Improvement is to Repeat the above steps and start again with the following “Small Step.”


As seen in Customer Engagement Success, Part 1, Strong Leadership, Business Fit, and User Adoption are the 3 keys to a successful CE Implementation project.  To drive a successful Customer Engagement project, make sure you have the 3 keys and turn the “Wheel of Change.” Wishing you all the best with your Customer Engagement project – I hope this helps!


Have any questions or comments on customer engagement success? Please don’t hesitate to Contact Us and feel free to connect on LinkedIn and Twitter! If you’re interested in more articles about customer engagement success check out our blog on Training for a Successful Implementation.