CRM, Customer Relationship Management

Information Technology Resources

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.

Implementing CRM

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 licences.

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:

1. Operational - automation to the basic business processes (marketing, sales, service)

2. Analytical - support to analyze customer behavior, implements business intelligence alike technology

3. 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 dissatisfaction).

- Provide a fast mechanism for handling problems and complaints (complaints that are resolved quickly can increase customer satisfaction).

- Provide a fast mechanism for correcting service deficiencies (correct the problem before other customers experience the same dissatisfaction).

- Use internet cookies to track customer interests and personalize product offerings accordingly.

- Use the Internet to engage in collaborative customization or real-time customization.

- 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 ages.

- 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 margins.

- 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.


CRM Community: CRMCommunity is your premier, community-oriented Web source for comprehensive, targeted information on evaluating, purchasing and implementing customer relationship management technology and solutions.

ITtoolbox CRM: Provides a knowledge network and support environment for the IT industry. As IT professionals or business decision-makers need information to complete a task or make a decision, they turn to ITtoolbox to quickly get specific answers to their unique questions.ITtoolbox provides a knowledge network and support environment for the IT industry. As IT professionals or business decision-makers need information to complete a task or make a decision, they turn to ITtoolbox to quickly get specific answers to their unique questions.

CRMDaily: Real-time CRM Industry News from Around the World. is your best resource for staying on top of what's happening in the fast-paced world of customer relationship management. features original news and analysis from our respected team of writers and editors, as well as a real-time headline news service that's updated 24-hours a day, in multiple languages. So you can always find current news and information on the products, technologies, and issues of critical importance to your e-business venture.

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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 businesses.

ACT! and SalesLogix CRM Consulting Firm - CRM drives business. These tools provide tangible results and excellent ROI. Free initial consultation.

i-CEurope - The home of no-nonsense CRM - Save 20% of Contact Centre Operational Costs: i-CEurope is an independent consulting organization providing complete CRM-based customer contact audits and CRM project health checks helping you achieve real operational savings.

Coastal Software - Development and consultancy on clientele CRM package. Also implement Epicor systems.

Pro CRM - Web based customer relationship management software.

ACCPAC International, Inc. - Accounting, CRM, Warehouse Management solutions that integrate with partner modules for ERP coverage.

Connect-Care CRM Tools - CRM tools for Customer and Partner Relationship Management. Connect-Care Suite includes Sales Force Automation, Web & Internet Based CRM, Quality Assurance and Support Desk modules to help delight customers and improve the bottom line.

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, CRM, call center and network management software solutions for the LAN /WAN and Internet.

Greystone Solutions - Our software development consultants specialize in using Microsoft and Siebel technology to create and extend eBusiness and CRM applications for the Web.

Suggestions for Further Reading

Attribution: Information for this article has been adapted from wikipedia under GNLU licence.

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