Many CRM services firms lag in brand recognition.
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In truth, Siebel Systems Inc. does have solid brand recognition. But the branding strategies of most CRM services firms need work if these organizations want to stay top of mind with enterprise customers.
That advice comes on the heels of a survey of executive-level decision-makers measuring awareness of CRM service firms. The study found that a short list of top-tier CRM services firms, led by IBM Global Services, Accenture, and Siebel Systems, are getting the lion's share of brand recognition.
The survey, conducted by the Information Technology Marketing Association, found that those three companies led a crowded field of CRM players in the category of unaided brand awareness when respondents were asked to name companies that provided CRM services. The study found that almost half of the respondents could not name even one.
"We wanted to find out from senior-level decision-makers who are they aware of that provides CRM software and CRM services. We wanted to see which companies were top-of-mind," says Julie Schwartz, vice president of research at the association.
The study, "Customer Relationship Management Services: Understanding Brand Awareness and Positioning in the CRM Services Market," was sponsored by Accenture, EDS Corp., Oracle Corp., and SAP AG. It revealed the results of 400 respondents identified as decision-makers from Fortune 1,000 firms.
"The study found that most of the people interviewed could name software vendors, but 45 percent of them were unable to name a CRM services provider," Schwartz says. "If you look at the respondent's aided awareness and ask them if you have heard of EDS or Accenture, they will say yes. What we have found is they have heard of the companies, but don't know specifically what they do."
Name recognition of CRM services providers is low primarily because these companies have been busy building brand awareness and haven't invested in building "brand knowledge," Schwartz says. What Schwartz means by brand knowledge is not just knowing what the company is, but knowing exactly what the service provider offers and how it is differentiated.
The big problem stems from the artsy conceptual branding campaigns that do not tell or reveal one iota what a company does, Schwartz says. "What the companies have focused on is building awareness and more of an emotional feel as opposed to the specifics of what they offer."
However, the good news for CRM services firms is that no one is behind, because they all have the same opportunity to build their brand knowledge. CRM services need to incorporate messages of what they do and business benefits they can provide. Customers want quick ROI, a CRM solution built with existing solutions and point solutions, and simple implementation. "[Customers] are looking for responsiveness, agility, and how best to minimize their risk," Schwartz says.
In short, Schwartz sees an adjustment in branding campaigns, and believes that most companies can make the shift toward brand knowledge.
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