DSC Tech Library
Customer Relationship Management
This section of our technical library presents information and documentation relating to CRM Solutions and customer relationship management software and products.
Providing timely customer service information is vital to maintaining a successful business. Accurate information provided in an organized and thoughtful manner is key to business success.
TELEMATION, our CRM and contact center software, was originally built on this foundation. The ability to modify Customer Relationship Management software is important in this ever changing business environment.
Telemation Customer Relationship Management solution and contact center software is ideally suited for call centers throughout the world.
CRM: Customer Care Goes End-To-End
By Charles Trepper
Customer-relationship management is evolving from a technology-centric project to a business-value effort as companies move from viewing customers as exploitable income sources to assets that have to be nurtured
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As companies move from brick and mortar to cyberspace, they must recognize that the basic elements of brand management remain the same--but how those elements are applied or adjusted can vary greatly. The four basic elements of brand management that are affected in cyberspace are: Investment mix, strategy, value, and ROI.
The investment mix varies by company and includes public relations, marketing, and promotions such as television and radio. A company's brand-management strategy dictates how those elements will be applied, which demographics will be targeted, and what steps are taken to apply those elements. Each company has different expectations of what value is brought by its investments in branding. Some companies spend money to build traffic, while others use it to change the demographics of that traffic, and still others use it to increase the purchasing of traffic.
The CRM investment mix between brick and mortar and online will almost certainly change. Companies that are strictly on the Web will advertise only on the Web. Companies that have real-world brands will continue advertising on TV and radio, but will also do cooperative advertising, such as banner ads, in cyberspace. Some companies invest in brand building in both realms.
Good CRM systems help businesses get more from their marketing promotions. Customer data--based on sales, locations, or demographics--offers only limited insight into buying habits. Deep data diving extends customer segmentation, and micromarketing capabilities with new measures such as customer value, profitability, and loyalty. With a better understanding of who their customers are and what they want to buy, companies can create targeted marketing promotions that increase transaction size, boost store loyalty, and increase profitability.
Perhaps the most important--and most overlooked--asset of any business is its customer base. Typically, 80% to 90% of a company's profits are generated by 10% to 20% of its customers. Because of the ever-increasing costs of acquiring new customers, highly effective, proactive retention strategies are essential to successful business development. Transforming huge amounts of data into information on which you can act is what separates the great CRM vendors from the rest of the industry.
A system's ability to match customer information with comprehensive databases allows it to identify elements critical to response and approval rates. This lets companies more effectively analyze their customer base, markets, and prospects, providing valuable insight into customer retention strategies, resource allocation, and cost-effective pursuits of new prospects.
End-to-end customer care is pretty much unheard of in most businesses. Some large companies, such as IBM, make follow-up calls to customers about products or services they supply. However, this follow-up process is primarily for business-to-consumer commerce, not business-to-business commerce. A company that could supply high-quality end-to-end customer care and accurate, complete data mining tools could make significant inroads in the CRM market.
The difficulty with end-to-end customer care, and the reason for this customer retention problem, is that all industries are slightly different, even though they may share common supply or value-chain characteristics.
To supply end-to-end customer care, a software product must track a customer's order for either products or services from sales/order point to receipt of product or service and customer-satisfaction follow-up. This requires discipline on the part of both the product or service supplier and the users. The software must be able to track the customer's order electronically to all the different vendors involved, as well as monitor the customer's calls or Web-site visits to determine the status of the order. A browser-based interface would make it easy for customers to track their order and provide a standard, open interface that can be used by most people. This product will also need to interface with every player in the supply chain, from raw material supplier to customer.
Companies can't succeed or grow unless they can serve their customers with a better value proposition than the competition. Measuring customer loyalty can accurately gauge the weaknesses in a company's value proposition and help to prescribe a cure. Providing customers with ongoing value, catering to their individual needs, and making sure that customers get what they want when and where they want it is critical in today's super-fast, hyper-competitive market.
If one company falls down, there are any number of rivals waiting to pick up its disgruntled customers. With E-commerce, any company, anywhere in the world can steal customers. Retention is especially difficult with respect to commodity products when all it takes to switch is clicking a mouse or typing in a new Web address.
Charles Trepper is a Minneapolis consultant who specializes in E-business strategies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org