Required Reading: Tracking the Evolution of CRM
In the most recent collaboration by Accenture's CRM strategists, Defying The Limits: Mastering High Performance CRM
takes a unique vantage point for surveying the past, present, and future of CRM. Accordingly, this year's theme is "The Evolution of CRM." Organized into four chapters that scrutinize recent developments, potential challenges, and future scenarios, Defying The Limits
is a pointed commentary. CRM magazine's Colin Beasty spoke with coauthor of Defying The Limits Sajid Usman, a partner in Accenture's Customer Interaction practice.
Why did you choose to make this year's theme "The Evolution of CRM?"
What we've seen over the past year or so is a shift in CRM by the leading-edge companies, the folks that are out there who are really customer-centric today--from CRM meaning tactical technology initiatives to CRM meaning change initiatives. Historically, everybody has been focused on technology [and] cost takeout: Make call centers cheaper, and make call center reps more efficient. Now a lot of companies are asking, How do I change my organization, how do I change my business processes, how do I use the data I've got? It's changing CRM into a business phrase, as opposed to a technology phrase.
Why is it important to understand the different approaches to CRM based on industry demands?
: First, a lot of industries are different, whether you're talking about the retail industry, which is historically anonymous until point-of-sale, or whether you take the business-to-business space, where you're executing product sales, or you take communications or financial services, where it's a service-orientated relationship. So every industry has very different approaches to how they deal with customers. Understanding that across the industry is really important; it's just different ways to interact with customers.
What's important about the four key segments cited in the book?
When we think about CRM we think about it as a closed loop, but you have to start somewhere; you have to start with a strategy. You go from strategic, to analytic, to operational CRM. There are different themes that go through all that, so it's really about understanding your marketplace, understanding your brand, understanding the impact of that on the marketplace and the relationship with your customers.
Then you have an area that talks about the analytics, how you bring that data together and how you understand your customers and your prospects and then how you bring that to life in an operational environment. That's what we really tried to get at in the book, really trying to segment these things, not only for the types of readers, like chief marketing officers who might focus on one chapter of the book, but also to help people structure their thoughts around CRM. It's a big topic. As you evolve into thinking about changing your organization, not just your technology, you have to break that down so you can go and address it.
Other Page Turners:
It's no secret that one of the keys to business success is how well companies manage interactions with their customers. Today, companies are relying more on IVRs and automated answering systems than ever before. In Best Face Forward, Jeffrey Rayport and Bernard Jaworski make the case that companies need to focus more on improving customer service by creating the right mix of interfaces to gain that competitive edge. Best Face Forward outlines the best methods and guiding principles to manage a company's customer interactions.
Extending the Supply Chain explores some of the most profitable telephone and Internet-based companies in the world and how they managed to extend their supply chains directly to the customers. The authors detail new practices and technologically advanced order-processing systems that can help companies to minimize costs, customize products, and provide increased service and convenience for their customers. In the book's three sections, the authors describe the strategies of extended supply chains and the methods to transform and extend them that extra mile.