Love Is in the Air

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Ah, spring. Sunshine, flowers, azure skies--the perfect time to create romance. And I don't just mean in your personal life.

I recently attended customer events hosted by Onyx and Salesforce.com, during which these vendors were spreading the love. The love of their products, that is.

Now, I'm not trying to plug these companies, but I must admit that their customers' enthusiasm was palpable. Of course it's unlikely that unhappy customers would attend these types of events. But these customers weren't just pleased, they were rapturous.

Going to these events gave me the opportunity to speak to customers face-to-face about the results they're seeing from their CRM initiatives. And frankly, the upbeat attitude of those customers--even those who are facing obstacles and creating strategies to overcome them--was catching.

After the Salesforce.com event I went to dinner with a few industry colleagues. One asked me, "Come on, does this stuff actually interest you?"

I smiled broadly, leaned in close, and declared, "Absolutely! I'm a CRM geek."

Despite the challenges I truly believe that companies can put customers first and profit from it. So to me these events were just further proof that CRM really does work.

This month we welcome another CRM enthusiast to our team. Laura Pollard, president of the CRMA Canada, will be writing our "Reality Check" column on a bimonthly basis. Her inaugural column (page 20) discusses the challenges of working collaboratively to make CRM a success.

In "Overly Ambitious" (page 24), Hewlett-Packard's CRM Director Mike Overly reveals his leadership strategies for bringing the company's disparate systems together under one CRM umbrella.

We also gain insight from a group of folks who had better be expert in CRM: vendors themselves. In "Follow the Leaders" (page 36), we examine how contact center vendors put other vendors' CRM software to use. Their creative strategies are driving success and real results.

In the end, though, true success comes only by involving users early and often. So in "Get With the Program" (page 30), we review the best strategies for getting users to buy in and embrace CRM. And if companies could get their users to be half as enthusiastic about CRM as the people attending the Onyx and Salesforce.com customer events, the customer love would certainly be overflowing.

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