Looking Inward
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There's been so much emphasis on the customer-facing side of CRM lately that it's easy to forget the needs of another vital constituency--the internal user.

Enterprises are grappling with the huge challenges of electronic commerce, marketing automation and integrating customer information for improved
service, so it's no wonder that less attention is being paid to the needs of salespeople and customer service reps. Yet their support and cooperation are critical success factors for almost any CRM initiative.

As Louise Yarmoff points out in her article on
e-Training in this issue, CRM vendors are beginning to apply cutting-edge technology to end-user education and to address their
on-going information needs. The Web, in particular, is helping organizations keep their employees up to speed on rapidly evolving CRM systems. But that's just one step.

Among other measures, CRM success will also require changes in the way we motivate and reward employees. If you're talking to your sales staff about a holistic view of the customer and rewarding them based solely on sales volume, their approach to their jobs will continue to reflect their narrow and short-term self-interest.

Traditional sales compensation plans rarely reward the kind of cooperative behavior that underlies CRM. If anything, salespeople threatened by today's shift to e-business are likely to grow more insular and uncooperative in a misguided attempt to guard their own turf. And channel partners who find themselves fighting for life in a Web-commerce free-for-all are not likely to show much loyalty to suppliers that offer them anything less than exemplary support.

For CRM to succeed, managers will need to find ways to tie employee compensation more closely to post-sale customer satisfaction and long-term loyalty, and to find equitable solutions to channel conflict. •

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