IT managers missing the point on CRM?

Meeting customer expectations is a high or top priority for 80 per cent of respondents to the 2010 ZDNet IT Priorities survey, yet 40 per cent have no plans to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Can you really satisfy customers without one?

Meeting customer expectations is a high or top priority for 80 per cent of respondents to the 2010 ZDNet IT Priorities survey, yet 40 per cent have no plans to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Can you really satisfy customers without one?

Not many years ago, CRM was a dirty word (or acronym) in IT circles. They were complex, expensive things and it was difficult to get a clear view of what everyone wanted out of it. The only thing people would generally agree on was, once implemented, they wanted it to do more.

In my mind, it's the engine room for any organisation and cloud computing is extending the functionality and efficiency of these systems. Let's remember, CRM was one of the first sizeable applications to make it into the cloud. Now, as more of us work away from the office, they can do so much more.

The telecommunications and media sector has figured this out whilst, according to the survey, the education sector trails the pack. That's curious isn't it, because schools and universities touch almost all of us in one way or another. I'd have thought they needed a CRM system more than most.


With only 20 per cent of respondents intending to implement a CRM solution in the next six months, here are a few telling statistics from the IT Priorities survey that point to why more organisations should be rethinking their strategy.

Business Processes

65 per cent of respondents consider applications to better fit business processes as a top or major consideration right now. In this day and age where there is, supposedly, more focus on the customer, it makes sense that such processes revolve largely around the CRM. The CRM should be identifying high yield customers and tracking a lot of key data around sales, delivery, service and marketing effectiveness. I wonder how many of that 65 per cent see CRM as key to improving business processes.

Information

Half of all respondents said integrated enterprise-wide information access was of high interest. In most cases this will relate directly to customer and products. An increasingly mobile workforce will need access to this information anytime, anywhere. It's that utopia of the 360 degree view of the customer that marketing types have been going on about for eons, giving real-time access to what a customer has bought, is waiting for, has responded to or complained about. This information drives the key metrics that a business should be tracking and using.

Communications

If you implement a new telephony system without integrating it into a CRM you're missing an opportunity. Clicking to make a call, seeing the customer data and documenting the exchange are crucial functions. It also helps with data integrity — if the number doesn't connect, for example, you change it on the database for everyone's benefit. Unified Communications is a high or top interest for 42 per cent of respondents; Hopefully they realise the importance of considering this as part of an integrated, outward looking, communications strategy with CRM at the heart.

Customer Expectations

Here's the clincher: 80 per cent of respondents saw meeting customer expectations as an IT priority. The customer will expect you to know everything about them. They'll assume you know they called up to complain last week. They might want you to send information about a new product when it comes available. They might want to track delivery of a product themselves online. Businesses need an easy-to-use CRM system, in-use across the organisation, to manage these expectations.

I wonder how those who have no plans of moving ahead with the latest generation of CRM offerings intend to satisfy their customers and keep track of what's really going on? Post-it notes perhaps?

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