Partnering for CRM Success

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Technology has made it possible for some companies to go it alone with their CRM initiatives. On-demand offerings are often intuitive enough to be plug-and-play. The Internet allows businesses to speak directly to customers in ways never before possible.
Still, most organizations work with partners to ensure their CRM success. Even companies that use on-demand CRM look to partners for advice on such issues as strategy and integration. This month CRM
magazine pays special attention to partners--on both sides of the CRM chain. We explore the relationships between companies and the consultancies, integrators, and outsourcers that support them. And we discuss companies' relationships with the channel partners supported by CRM. Most every company that implements CRM does so with the help of a consultant, an integrator, or both. Articles Editor Joshua Weinberger examines the role consultants and integrators play in a CRM initiative in "Selecting the Right Services Partner(s)" (page 32). The article discusses how to decide whether it is best to work with either a consultant or an integrator, or if it is better to work with both, and offers tips on how to get everyone to work together for your success. More and more companies are finding that outsourcing all or some of their customer support is more efficient and cost effective than doing it solely in-house. As outsourcing options expand, however, companies are challenged to find the best mix of call center services. In "Making the Right Call" (page 38) Executive Editor Jason Compton discusses the people, processes, and technology issues that managers should consider when making their outsourcing decisions. On the other side of the CRM chain are the channel partners that are integral not only to companies' CRM success, but also to their success overall. In "What's in It for Me?" (page 44) Editorial Intern Emmy Favilla reveals five strategies for encouraging partners to embrace CRM, to make using it a part of their day-to-day business processes, and as a result, strengthen the ties between company and partner. One common thread through these articles is that companies must take responsibility for the success of their CRM initiatives. Project leaders can't hire partners or set up a partner relationship management program and then simply walk away saying, "Whew, that's done." They need to have an ongoing dialogue with their partners. Communication is as important to partner relationships as it is to customer relationships. Through that communication companies will stay abreast of problems, new developments, and successes within their initiatives; set goals and ensure they are met; and determine partners' needs to help them ensure success. The fact is that no matter how much support an organization gets from its partners, in the end the responsibility for the success of its CRM initiative is its own. As Derek Pollitt, Bell Canada's associate director of CRM strategy development and deployment, says in "Selecting the Right Services Partner(s)": "Within our overall CRM strategy...we'll ask for people's opinions, but if we don't feel comfortable about it we'll go a different way. Ultimately the decision is ours." **** As CRM magazine also seeks to continually improve, this month we have introduced a new look to our letters page, "Feedback" (page 10). Senior Designer Laura Hegyi's fresh, crisp style makes "Feedback" easier to read and more engaging. Another change this month is the addition to our staff of Assistant Editor Coreen Bailor. A graduate of Rutgers University, Coreen brings expertise in both economics and journalism. Ginger Conlon Editor-in-Chief gconlon@destinationCRM.com
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