Not As I Do: CRM Firms Don't Follow Best Practices

CRM vendors aren't following good CRM techniques themselves, according to a new report from The Customer Respect Group (TCRG). CRM vendors in the study ignored 27 percent of email inquiries, leading them to score below average-5.6 out of 10, versus 5.7 for all industries-on the Customer Respect Index (CRI). Communication and site usability are two of the six factors that comprise the CRI rating. Site usability looks at a site's ease of use and accessibility. Communication looks at the willingness of a company to engage in one-on-one communication to answer specific questions. This includes the quality of email replies (both speed and helpfulness), response tone, and other communication methods. Poor results in these areas led to poor overall showings for CRM vendors, particularly considering that customer responsiveness is behind the products they are trying to sell, according to Terry Golesworthy, president of TCRG. "The fact that 27 percent of email questions were ignored completely is an amazing statistic for the industry; a cynic might suggest that internal CRM systems are poor," Golesworthy says. "How CRM vendors treat their own customers is a leading indicator as to how well they understand the customer relationship." Overall, CRM vendors fared particularly poorly in communications with customers, with an industry score of just 4.1. Vendors were grouped into those that install software on customers' premises and those that supply an ASP/remote-based solution. On-Premises vendors did better on Web-site usability, but struggled with trust issues. The on-demand vendors had an opposite set of results: They were strong on trust issues but site usability was a concern. "They should be more responsive to customers showing an interest in their products. It's not like they get a lot of inquiries like the telecom industry or the retail industry," Golesworthy says. "You can't just have back end systems, you have to have policies and procedures [regarding customer responsiveness]." A few other sample findings for the communications component of the study:
  • No company consistently responded with helpful responses to online questions in a timely manner (within a day).
  • Just 31 percent of email inquiries were acknowledged with an auto response, functionality almost certainly provided in all CRM systems.
  • Just half of the inquiries that did receive a response were answered with a day. Related articles: Market Focus: Systems Integrators: VARs Vary in Customer Care Integrators Fail to Deliver Satisfaction in CRM Service Relationships A Customer Respect Score Remains Level
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