Anytime Is the Right Time for CRM

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I received an email last week from a visitor to our Web site, destinationCRM.com, asking if I thought CRM was right for a company that considers it "customers" to be the facilities it maintains, because they are the recipients of this firm's services. My response was, "Of course CRM is right for your company. Those facilities are run by people. Those people are your customers. If you have customers, you have a need for a CRM strategy." The trick is, designing the right strategy. We've recently met with several companies that not only have done that, but have done it during one of a firm's most hectic times: start-up. For every executive still wondering whether to jump in and reinvent his company as a customer-centric organization, there is one launching a new business with CRM as a part of its foundation. Take, for example, Eclipse Aviation. At a recent conference I asked CIO Michael Brown why the start-up implemented a company-wide CRM strategy supported by enterprise suite CRM software. His answer revealed fast growth plans: "We're a start-up building an infrastructure for a multimillion-dollar company," he said. "We have a complex structure in our CRM system, because we have to keep track of many-to-many relationships, interactions, and deposits. We wanted the most integrated system we could get. So we preferred to go with SAP." Another executive I spoke with, who selected enterprise suite CRM from Oracle, said, "We fully expect to have to scale quickly. We're confident we have the product--we're not worried about that. Fast growth is not an if, it is a when, so we need the right tools. Oracle is a big choice for a start-up, but you have to realize who we are and who we're competing with. Our executives are well known in the industry, so our customers have a high expectation of us. When you start thinking about competing in that environment, enterprise CRM makes sense." Conversations like these with several forward-thinking executives led to this month's cover story, "CRM Is Go!" (page 30). In the article Executive Editor Jason Compton recounts how CRM tools and strategies supported the launches of organizations in sports, spirits, and high tech. Their approaches differed as much as their industries do, but they all share a common result: Their success is a benchmark--and a solid base for their future growth plans. **** This month we introduce a new column, "Analyze This." Each month a well-known industry analyst will sound off on a hot issue or reveal current research findings. In the inaugural piece (page 26) Joe Outlaw offers advice on how midmarket organizations should approach selecting CRM tools. Ginger Conlon Editor-in-Chief gconlon@destinationCRM.com
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