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Realising the Benefits of CRM

NCC Guidelines - Volume 4 - Number 7 

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Database systems used to enhance an organisation’s management of key relationships have seen huge developmental strides in the last 20 years. Investing wisely in this kind of business system is a new ‘must-win’ game. Today, in many organisations, staff who manage key relationships, bring in sales, help customers with service issues or have reason to communicate marketing messages to a structured population, use some form of customer relationship management (CRM) system. Companies that have experienced CRM success claim significant bottom-line benefits – productivity gains in excess of 20% and in many cases sales increases of more than 5%. It’s worth finding out how to do this.

Since 2000 the number of system products on the market has mushroomed. New technologies mean different choices and different economics (cloud), and new products mean better niche CRM solutions for some, ‘bad’ CRM for others and confusion for the rest. New phrases about CRM have entered business language – we now refer to ‘stakeholders’. Customers are the prime focus of a CRM database, but now other influential people are also included whose relationships need to be managed, so they too are referred to as stakeholders.

Until 2005 commercial organisations were the main CRM investors. Now, not-for-profit organisations use CRM as charities focus on fundraising and membership. Universities (HE/higher education) too have a large and diverse range of relationship management needs. Students, it is said, now see themselves as customers – some teaching staff see it differently – but with funding curtailed, the recruitment of sufficient students has become a survival issue.

Looking at how and where relationship value is delivered we refer to ‘touchpoints’. A touchpoint is the location, person or department that interacts with the stakeholder and good transactions create healthy feelings of ‘relatedness’. Relatedness is elusive – the feeling in a customer’s mind following an engagement with the organisation. What stakeholders feel is ‘the score’ in the relationship game and here ‘perception is truth’. A more general approach to CRM might in the future be better described as stakeholder relationship management (SRM).

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