Customer Relationship What?
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Though burgeoning CRM industry revenues might suggest otherwise, a recent survey by the META Group and IMT strategies suggests that there is still no consensus definition of what CRM actually is or does. When 50 executives who are in charge of CRM projects at leading companies were asked "What is CRM?" they responded with multiple, conflicting and often incomplete definitions. Their responses break down as follows:

  • Twenty-nine percent of respondents see CRM as a 360-degree view of the customer, which includes a better understanding of customer lifecycles and profitability.
  • Roughly 27 percent of respondents define CRM as "the quality of company/customer interaction." These respondents saw CRM as providing seamless service to customers across all points of interaction.
  • Another 22 percent saw CRM simply as the tools and technologies used to achieve incremental operational improvements.
  • Twenty percent defined CRM as a organizational shift from a product focus to a customer focus.
  • Roughly 14 percent of those surveyed see CRM as a way of delivering customer data to customer-facing employees.

Finally, the smallest group of respondents-6 percent-aren't particularly moved by any definition. They see CRM as nothing more than "a new name for an old business practice."

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