Customer Relationship Management (CRM) includes the methodologies, strategies,
software, and web-based capabilities that help an enterprise organize and manage customer relationships. It is the collection and distribution of all data to all areas of the business. The general purpose of CRM is to enable organizations to better manage their customers through the introduction of reliable systems, processes and procedures for interacting with those customers.
Major areas of CRM focus on service automated processes, personal information gathering and processing, and self-service. It attempts to integrate and automate the various customer serving processes within a company.
A successful CRM strategy cannot be implemented by simply installing and integrating a software package, a holistic approach is needed. This approach may include training of employees, a modification of business processes based on customers' needs and an adoption of relevant IT systems (including software and maybe hardware) and/or usage of IT services that enable the organization or company to follow its CRM strategy. CRM services can even replace the acquisition of additional hardware or CRM software
The term itself is meant to describe the whole business strategy (or lack of one) oriented on customer needs. The main misconception of CRM is that it is only a software, instead of a whole business strategy. To be effective, the CRM process needs to be integrated end-to-end across marketing, sales, and customer service. A good CRM program needs to:
Identify customer success factor
Create a customer-based culture
Adopt customer-based measures
Develop an end-to-end process to serve customers
Recommend what questions to ask to help a customer solve a problem
Recommend what to tell a customer with a complaint about a purchase
Track all aspects of selling to customers and prospects as well as customer support.
When setting up a CRM segment for a company it might first want to see what profile aspects it feels are relevant to its business, such as what information it needs to serve its customers, the customer's past financial history, the effects of the CRM segment and what information is not useful. Being able to eliminate unwanted information can be a large aspect of implementing CRM systems.
When designing a CRM's structure, a company may want to consider keeping more extensive information on their primary customers and keeping less extensive details on the low-margin clients.
Architecture of CRM
There are three parts of application architecture of CRM:
- Operational - automation to the basic business processes (marketing, sales, service)
- Analytical - support to analyze customer behavior, implements business intelligence alike technology
- Collaborative - ensures the contact with customers (phone, email, fax, web, sms, post, in person)
Purposes of Customer Relationship Management
CRM, in its broadest sense, means managing all interactions and
business with customers. This includes, but is not limited to, improving
customer service. A good CRM program will allow a business to acquire
customers, service the customer, increase the value of the customer to
the company, retain good customers, and determine which customers can be
retained or given a higher level of service. A good CRM program can
improve customer service by facilitating communication in several ways:
- Provide product information, product use information, and
technical assistance on web sites that are accessible 24 hours a
day, 7 days a week.
- Identify how each individual customer defines quality, and then
design a service strategy for each customer based on these
individual requirements and expectations.
- Provide a fast mechanism for managing and scheduling follow-up
sales calls to assess post-purchase cognitive dissonance, repurchase
probabilities, repurchase times, and repurchase frequencies.
- Provide a mechanism to track all points of contact between a
customer and the company, and do it in an integrated way so that all
sources and types of contact are included, and all users of the
system see the same view of the customer (reduces confusion).
- Help to identify potential problems quickly, before they occur.
- Provide a user-friendly mechanism for registering customer
complaints (complaints that are not registered with the company
cannot be resolved, and are a major source of customer
- Provide a fast mechanism for handling problems and complaints
(complaints that are resolved quickly can increase customer
- Provide a fast mechanism for correcting service deficiencies
(correct the problem before other customers experience the same
- Use internet cookies to track customer interests and personalize
product offerings accordingly.
- Use the Internet to engage in collaborative customization or
- Provide a fast mechanism for managing and scheduling maintenance,
repair, and on-going support (improve efficiency and effectiveness).
- The CRM can be integrated into other cross-functional systems and
thereby provide accounting and production information to customers
when they want it.
Improving customer relationships
CRM programs also are able to improve customer relationships.
Proponents say this is so because:
- CRM technology can track customer interests, needs, and buying
habits as they progress through their life cycles, and tailor the
marketing effort accordingly. This way customers get exactly what
they want as they change.
- The technology can track customer product use as the product
progresses through its life cycle, and tailor the service strategy
accordingly. This way customers get what they need as the product
- In industrial markets, the technology can be used to micro-segment
the buying centre and help coordinate the conflicting and changing
purchase criteria of its members.
- When any of the technology-driven improvements in customer service
(mentioned above) contribute to long-term customer satisfaction,
they can ensure repeat purchases, improve customer relationships,
increase customer loyalty, decrease customer turnover, decrease
marketing costs (associated with customer acquisition and customer
“training”), increase sales revenue, and thereby increase profit
- Repeat purchase, however, comes from customer satisfaction - which
in turn comes from a deeper understanding of each customer, their
individual business challenges and proposing solutions for those
challenges rather than a "one size fits all" approach.
- CRM software enables sales people to achieve this one on one
approach to selling and can automate some elements of it via
tailorable marketing communications. However, all of these elements
are facilitated by or for humans to achieve - CRM is therefore a
company-wide attitude as much as a software solution. [Source: wikipedia)
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Multiactive Software - CRM and Contact Management Software - Customer relationship managemen and contact management software with sales force automation, marketing automation, customer service, and e-commerce tools for small and medium
ACT! and SalesLogix CRM Consulting Firm - CRM drives business. These tools provide tangible results and excellent
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CRM Customer Royalty - Develops software within
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CRM Assist - Helping CRM customers and professionals understand Customer Relationship Management, Front Office, Sales Force Automation, and eMarketing through Mail lists, online forums, an integrated directory, and much more.
i-CEurope - The home of no-nonsense CRM - Save 20% of Contact Centre Operational Costs: i-CEurope is an independent consulting organization providing complete
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Coastal Software - Development and consultancy on clientele CRM package. Also implement Epicor systems.
Pro CRM - Web based customer relationship management software.
TOPCALL - Fax Servers for SAP, Siebel, Baan and Oracle - TOPCALL - Fax Server Systems, Unified Messaging Solutions and Mobile Messaging Solutions for Siebel and other CRM and ERP systems such as
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ACCPAC International, Inc. - Accounting,
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Connect-Care CRM Tools - CRM tools for Customer and Partner Relationship Management. Connect-Care Suite includes Sales Force Automation, Web & Internet Based
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Ideal Consulting - Ideal Consulting is Florida's premiere provider of Accounting, Human Resource, Payroll, CRM and Business Intelligence Solutions. Since 1987, Ideal Consulting has been providing clients Innovative Solutions for the Real World.
CRM and Relationship Marketing Consultant - Jef Harris is a specialist in holistic marketing, CRM and brand building.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Forum - Focuses on CRM aspect of customer service. Resource site containing presentations, case studies, articles and academic papers, conference and trade show listings, online conferences, and help-wanted/jobs listed postings.
NetKeeper - A leading provider of help desk,
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Greystone Solutions - Our software development consultants specialize in using Microsoft and Siebel technology to create and extend eBusiness and CRM applications for the Web.
Books on CRM