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What's new about the CRM customer?
Posted Jul 15, 2002
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We've all recognized the lack of success -- rather failure to meet objectives -- in the CRM category. A lot of early adopters stubbed their toes. Customers today are more astute about their projects. They're starting to realize that CRM is not this magic bullet for increasing sales or achieving better response times in customer service. Rather, people are identifying business issues and then evaluating CRM solutions against them. There's less emphasis concerning the entire functionality in an application. Instead, customers are looking at specific pieces of that application that most appropriately resolve or improve their business. Everyone is finding out CRM is much more than a software package, it's a business philosophy. This back to basics approach is doing the category well. And vendors have helped, too. We've also matured quite a bit. There's new solutions and more competition -- all of which is healthy. The focus of CRM is shifting from a departmental perspective to a broader, enterprise orientation. For instance, everyone understands SFA brings tremendous efficiencies, and its functionality is a cost of entry for vendors. The challenge going forward is making a CRM project work more effectively in the context of the overall business. Today, it's not just about closing the sale but also moving the sale across the chasm to the next department, which, of course, would be fulfillment and billing and support. The lines are absolutely blurring. This has been the challenge for businesses -- that is, making the parts work as a whole. Another challenge is getting organizations to approach the solution not as a near-term problem fix but a strategic opportunity in the context of three, five and even ten years. The macroeconomic environment has brought forth this focus on ROI, and while I don't want to diminish it, CRM solutions form the basic infrastructure that support customer interaction -- and that's at the heart and soul of a business. As you approach these CRM applications, you need to balance short- and long-term objectives.
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