How do customers use CRM applications?
In many ways, CRM is an updated version of the sales force automation
(SFA) strategies that were popular in then 1990's. But CRM takes things a
step further. The software that links the back office to the front office,
the technology needed to make the call center easy-to-use and able to track
customer information, while at the same time boosting revenue by increasing
customer loyalty; this is all part of CRM. By using CRM software, one can
provide easy access to up-to-date customer data for its sales team, technicians
and customer call centers.
For example, a sales rep can benefit from CRM by accessing a customer’s
sales history, prior conversations, special needs, and complaints lodged in
real-time, without ever having formerly spoken to the customer. This can help
the sales rep to trim the time spent listening to customer complaints, help
finalize a sale, or perhaps offer other services to the customer. With CRM
technology, one hopes to provide better service, sell more goods or services,
and form a tighter bond with the customer.
However, more sophisticated CRM applications attempt to go well beyond
better customer service techniques by providing solutions such as linking
the customer to a web site for reviewing his/her own sales history online.
Many other CRM systems attempt to act as sort of a "super salesman" by analyzing
customer buying habits, collecting information, and enabling a company to
make further offers of service or products.
Who supports and maintains CRM applications?
Because CRM is an overall business strategy that often includes several technologies,
maintenance can sometimes come from several departments, such as IT or Web
site producers and designers. The more sophisticated CRM implementations
will require periodic customization, such as software linking the field sales
force to a web site. One must always consider the
TCO involved in CRM packages
and the practical benefits that it ultimately provides.
Why haven’t all companies jumped on the CRM bandwagon?
Although many independent researchers predict that the CRM market will grow
at a dramatic rate over the next few years, few companies are very far along
the path to CRM nirvana. Because true CRM programs call for a difficult reassessment
and possible reorganization of a company, it can be a challenge that many
companies don’t want to tackle as a high priority.
The Pitfalls of CRM
As software vendors and consultants sell CRM software to businesses;
companies are struggling to implement these complex systems they peddle.
Today, Most Fortune 500 companies are involved in some sort of CRM project,
experts say, and many multimillion dollar initiatives have quietly stalled
or failed as executives search for business benefits and salespeople shy away
from technology they say won't help them.
In one example, a large telecommunications company rolled out a major CRM
application to more than 1000 sales reps in late 1999, at a cost of $10,000
per user, only to find a year later that fewer than 100 were using the system,
according to one CRM consultant.
Part of the reason that CRM packages crash land is because of companies
who jump into CRM projects looking for a quick fix, and another reason is
because management does a poor job in selling the importance of CRM to those
who are supposed to use it.
Another sad reality is that many companies, in pursuit of CRM nirvana,
end up grossly overpaying vendors because of CRM software hype. Many
of the advanced sales/marketing features presented by high-end CRM packages
sound revolutionary and make big promises of
ROI. However, many
experts on the subject echo a warning that, in spite of their popularity,
most CRM projects don't result in measurable benefits.
Those who have botched ambitious CRM initiatives shouldn't throw in the
towel, however. The fight for customer loyalty is on, and a well thought
out CRM strategy can boost a company's stature, professionalism and revenue.
Misusing the Benefits of CRM
When deciding upon a CRM solution, one must get past all the hype and truly
understand the key benefits of CRM. Customer loyalty does not stem from
clever strategies to collect every conceivable piece of data from customers
and then cross-sell them something they don't want.
In fact, the very concept of customer relationship management is misguided.
Companies shouldn't try to manage loyal customers; long-standing relationships
arise from trust gained over many transactions, and they are sustained by
customers' belief that the company wishes to keep them around rather than
drive them away.
CRM is manipulation in too many cases. Companies are acting on information
of customers against their interests—calling them at home at night, bombarding
them with mailings from vendors and its affiliates, etc. Loyalty means
listening to your customer and creating mutual satisfaction.
Customer loyalty seems like a quaint notion, especially in the Internet
age, when customers can search out lower prices and defect to competitors
with a mouse-click. Yet research has found that in the faceless online
market, customers yearn for trustworthiness more than ever. Give it
to them and they're yours forever.
CRM is not altogether awful, in our view. It's just that, too often, the
standard CRM practices lead to vexation or worse from customers, not loyalty.
Not many people enjoy being inundated with telephone calls and having their
mailboxes stuffed with useless promotions. There is a good and virtuous use
of CRM, however. One of the best things you can do with CRM technology is
find out who the valuable customers are—those who are staying, not just any
customer willing to accept your offer to switch from a competitor. Once companies
know who their best customers are, the real work begins—convincing them to
Dell Computer, for instance, uses CRM data to determine which customers
have the greatest hardware needs and then provides extra value to that select
group, in the form of free Web portals. The company rejects common practices
such as selling customer lists to outside vendors. Instead, Dell has set up
Premier Pages for thousands of its best customers. These customized, secure
websites allow customers to check on order status, arrange delivery dates
and troubleshoot problems through Dell's help desk.
CRM - The ManageMore Way
By not losing sight of what makes CRM truly important, Intellisoft has
diligently created a powerful customer care data view that encompasses the
most important facets of a customer's history with your company. Through
the use of data centralization, any member in your organization can quickly
view a customer's service histories, purchase habits, email exchanges, prior
conversations or complaints, and sales volume activity.
ManageMore's objective with CRM is to provide instant information that
will allow you to understand your customer better, track things more efficiently
and look more professional in front of the customer. Another goal of
our CRM package is to ease customer service down a level: from phone to email
and from email to webpage FAQ's. By making it easy to send and receive
email messages from customers, you can ultimately keep down calls to a customer
service call center.
Products like our EMail Pro™ can also help in the CRM experience.
By offering the ability to run email campaigns, enewsletters, product alerts,
etc. directly to your loyal customers, one can see an increase in sales and
Other products like our Task Complete™ module also contribute in our objective
of CRM loyalty. By assigning tasks for customer call backs, to do's,
and customer complaint resolutions, one can rest assured that a busy work
day is not to blame for forgetting the needs of your most important customers.
Intellisoft wants to ensure you that our CRM solutions don't lose sight
of the fundamental power in customer contact. CRM must be used to help
each customer feel special and ManageMore™ can accomplish this whether you
have 100 customers or 100,000 customers. Always remember... Every time
a customer talks to you they want to feel like they're your only customer.