The ubiquity of CRM – Where do we go from here?

In some business sectors, CRM is becoming ubiquitous. Access to more information means customers are much better informed, and more selective in their purchases — they have a choice of what and where to buy. Therefore competition is increasing, and the rising cost of acquiring new customers, as well

as a marked increase in customer churn, is making mutually satisfying customer relationships and loyalty more important than ever. Many organizations have recognized these trends and have implemented a Customer Intelligence strategy to assure their survival and success in today’s, and tomorrow’s business climates.

A solid Customer Intelligence strategy can help cut marketing costs, by making interactions more targeted, concise, and precise. It means getting to know your customers, to ensure you’re talking to someone who’s relevant and who is listening, rather than casting a wide net and broadcasting to a lot of people who aren’t paying attention. This same well thought-out strategy can also cut sales costs by pre-qualifying the audience and building a rapport via marketing touch points first, then moderating the leads transferred to sales to only those of valuable prospects. Less time to establish a relationship and close a sale means more bandwidth to establish more relationships and close more sales.

The escalating costs and dwindling effectiveness of mass marketing make it more responsible to base your customer acquisition and retention efforts on a communicated need, using a campaign management software framework, and warehousing and growing your collected data. Activities that collect valuable Customer Intelligence are the activities that will show the most return on investment.

But a move to this approach involves a bit of a cerebral shift in how you run your business. If you’re going to talk the talk, then by deductive reasoning you’ve got to walk the walk. If you request profile information about your customers, as the relationship progresses you must demonstrate that you were taking note. As Peppers and Rogers would say, “Treat different customers differently.” And you’ll have to ensure that every touch point with that customer, across the organization, has a commonality — that it’s unified no matter the circumstance, or with whom the customer is interacting.

With the Intelligence you collect, you can focus on making the company easier and better to do business with. This seems like a simple idea, but your other goals — to cut costs and increase revenue — won’t come to fruition unless the customer experience is consistent, rewarding and reliable.

Continual measurement against planned objectives is imperative: you’ve got to know where you are to know where you want to go. Use this continuous learning to learn more, do it faster than the competition — then act! But your CRM approach will be only as effective as your tools and th

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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