Stand by Me

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One of the main reasons companies implement CRM is to foster customer loyalty. But as a customer of CRM vendors, how loyal should you be? It's easy enough to switch from, say, Staples to Office Max and back--even if you've set up an extranet for your account--but when you've invested significant dollars in CRM software, hardware, and integration services, the idea of switching can seem unreasonable. But should it be? There are times when, no matter the money and time invested, the difficult, but best choice is to defect from a current vendor to a new one. Sometimes the decision to switch is easy. This month Senior Editor Lisa Picarille examines the issues companies should consider when deciding whether to stay with their current CRM or switch to another ("Is it Time to Defect?", page 26). Her findings may surprise you. Last month I wrote that T-Mobile had given me reason to switch by charging existing customers (which I am) $200 more for a Treo than the "going rate." I'm happy to report that within two days of contacting the company, a terrific person named MaryAnn arranged for me to get the Treo at the lower price. As a result I certainly would not be swayed to switch to another provider. For midsize companies there are a whole group of organizations looking to help resolve their CRM concerns. As mid-market organizations increasingly adopt CRM, consultants are rushing to their aid. But finding the right consultant can be as difficult as choosing the right software. Senior Editor David Myron helps ease the decision with 10 tips to help select the best consultant for your needs ("Who's Minding the Mid-Market?", page 30). Succeeding with CRM no matter the company size was the main topic of a panel discussion at a recent Frost & Sullivan CRM executive summit. Key issues from the panel, which featured seven noted industry executives, are the focus of "A Room With a (Point of) View" (page 36). One of the hot topics of successful CRM these days is transforming into a real-time enterprise. In "Is Real Time for Real?" (page 40) News Editor Martin Schneider reveals how some companies are already succeeding with real-time initiatives, as well as discusses what organizations can do to operate their CRM programs in real time. It's an exciting time for the CRM industry, with no slowdown of new technologies and strategies. A time when successful CRM--and the customer loyalty it fosters--is truly within reach. Ginger Conlon Editor gconlon@destinationCRM.com
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