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Honest answers to all your CRM questions

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Customer Relationship Management continues to be the most vibrant, critical and evolving technology category in today’s market. CRM today is no longer just about enterprise software. Rather, today’s CRM is a flexible solution where you can mix software, hosted services and other components to meet your specific business needs.

Who are your best customers? What can you do to retain them? How can you attract others like them? How can you increase your customers’ profits? The truth is that most companies have difficulty understanding and managing customer life cycles and profitability. This is due to problems designing and executing effective marketing campaigns, and problems measuring their effectiveness.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Cube
Figure1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Cube

A survey of more than 1,600 business and IT professionals conducted by The Data Warehousing Institute found that close to 50% had CRM project budgets of less than $500,000. Clearly, CRM doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. What’s more, Forester estimated that CRM revenues will grow from $42.8 billion in 2002 to $73.8 billion in 2007, a compound annual growth rate of 11.5%.

For CRM to be truly effective, an organization must decide what kind of customer information it’s looking for and what it intends to do with it. Look at how customer information comes into a business, where and how it’s stored, and how it’s used. Then have company analysts comb through the data to get a complete view of each customer and pinpoint areas where better services are needed. One way to assess the need for a CRM project is to count the ways a customer can access the company. The more there are, the greater the need for the single centralized customer view a CRM system can provide.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Cycle
Figure 2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Cycle

Customer Relationship Management enables real-time availability checks, contract management, billing management, fulfillment visibility, and order tracking, giving you the features and functions necessary for marketing planning, campaign management, telemarketing, lead generation, and customer segmentation. In addition, CRM allows you to offer ongoing customer care across all channels – with a customer-interaction center, Web-based customer self-service capabilities, service and claims management, field service and dispatch, and installed-base management.

CRM helps your business:

  • Provide better customer service
  • Make call centers more efficient
  • Cross-sell products more effectively
  • Have sales staff close deals faster
  • Simplify marketing and sales processes
  • Discover new customers
  • Increase customer revenues

Take a moment to count all the critical business processes associated with ordering, fulfillment, payment, billing, employee benefits, sales, marketing and customer service. In your opinion, what percentage of these processes is completely and effectively digitized? Is it 10%, 30%, 50% or more? Our research indicates that the average is between 20 and 30% – higher for Global 2000 companies, lower for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). CRM helps businesses use technology and human resources to gain insight into customer behavior – and to recognize the value of those customers.

Customer Relationship Management goes beyond sales, marketing and customer-service applications into business intelligence, analytics, hosted applications, mobile capabilities and much more! By thinking more insightfully about what your customers are worth, you can focus your resources on attracting and keeping the right type of customers. This focus, in turn, will make your CRM efforts more productive and position you better for innovation and growth.

For more information, please read Customer Relationship Management Product.