• March 1, 2005
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

What Is CRM?

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Some might argue that attempting to define the essence of CRM might be an overly ambitious undertaking in my first column as editor-in-chief. To be fair, I've been studying the market for several years, most of the time while I was on staff at CRM magazine with former Editor-in-Chief Ginger Conlon. And although I took a short leave from the industry, I return with the knowledge that while there have been some innovative technological advancements in CRM solutions, at its core CRM is still the same. In fact, as long as I've been covering this industry CRM's purpose has never wavered. What throws people, though, when it comes to understanding CRM's purpose and value, is an overwhelming focus on technology. It's understandable. The acronym is commonly explained to executives by CRM technology vendors or their own internal IT professionals, and when executives hear terms like "unified data architecture" or "segmentation analysis," it's only natural for them to stare blankly and think, technology. Not to take anything away from the technology--there are some impressive solutions out there--but defining CRM as merely a technology solution only distorts its purpose and value. It is better to view CRM as a business process. CRM can be any number of processes designed to improve a company's relationship with customers across sales, marketing, and customer service departments. And, incidentally, the process does not always require technology. If you've ever worked in retail, you may have heard the axioms service with a smile, and the customer is always right. These are CRM efforts that long predate the technology. To prove that CRM requires a steadfast focus on the people and on business processes, Executive Editor Jason Compton highlights companies that are recognizing successful no-tech CRM initiatives. Turn to page 30 to see why one executive asserts that building the strategy around the software "can have disastrous results." Taking this business process view of CRM, Compton also provides solutions for the 10 biggest CRM concerns and missteps (page 38). And Editorial Intern Colin Beasty showcases CRM in unexpected places on page 42, proving CRM is not just for Madison Avenue. With its strong focus on people and on business processes, this issue will help you define CRM for your organization. **** THIS MONTH we announce the well-deserved promotion of Alison C. Lowander from copy chief to managing editor. As copy chief for more than two years at CRM magazine, Alison has demonstrated her talent, passion for the magazine, and care for clean stories on a daily basis. As her new title dictates, she has taken on more managerial responsibilities, and we are pleased to have her on our team in this expanded capacity. Also, my thanks go to Executive Editor Jason Compton for taking the reins of CRM's February issue, ensuring a smooth transition during our changing of the guard. David Myron Editor-in-Chief
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