Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions can prove to be invaluable to an enterprise – but only when used properly. Ongoing CRM analysis from Frost & Sullivan revealed that even though many companies have taken the external step of furnishing the technology, CRM solutions are often underutilized internally.
Frost & Sullivan Industry Analyst Katherine Shariq places the emphasis on poor employee compliance, rather than technology issues. However, despite employee resistance CRM solutions have had unprecedented success in the sales, marketing, and customer service business units. The industry generated revenues exceeding $11 billion in 2001 and is projected to surge ahead, nearing $36 billion by 2008.
Frost & Sullivan emphasizes that early CRM usage was initially to make customer service representatives more efficient on the telephone; and current CRM strategies are designed to facilitate easier customer/enterprise interaction.
CRM should make it easier for a customer to do business with one firm over a competitor by providing more online self-service capabilities, knowledge transfer, and information sharing. Organizations must be able to provide customers the appropriate tools to foster healthy company/client relationships.
Many early users viewed CRM as the solution to all of their customer problems. However, this was not the case, as the technology was not combined with a clear, enterprise-wide CRM strategy.
“Customer relationship management is as much about a corporate philosophy and business strategy as it is software. It is a philosophy that places the customers’ needs at the center of business operations, and this strategy is used to increase profits by improving client acquisition and retention,” says Shariq.
The research firm recommends that industry participants must take a proactive role in seeking out new markets, and educating end users about the operational strategies they must adopt. Meeting with clients and explaining CRM’s potential is essential to overall market success.
“Departments that define their objectives at the outset and then put the applications into place become satisfied and successful users – in comparison to participants who expect technology to solve their business concerns,” Shariq concludes.
Meanwhile, employee lag time can be critical in CRM as research from IDC finds that the success of CRM analytics can rely on the real-time factor.
“CRM analytics coat the CRM process as nerves coat a body for the sense of touch,” said Bob Blumstein, director of research for IDC9s CRM Analytics and Marketing Applications research. “Successful CRM companies should concentrate not only on minimizing clock time but also on the more elastic, perceived delays that lower the chance of successful CRM analytics usage.”
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