Managing the customer relationship with CRM

SugarCRM believes that businesses are beginning to learn about what customer relationship management systems can do for their relationships with customers.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

As the pressure for businesses to protect personal data increases, the customer relationship management (CRM) market in Australia is starting to see significant growth, according to SugarCRM.

Over the last 12 months, SugarCRM said the company has been experiencing continued growth in Asia-Pacific, with a 28 percent year-over-year increase in sales, matching nearly the same growth experienced in the US, the UK, Germany, and France.

SugarCRM co-founder and CTO Clint Oram said CRM used to be about the deployment of technology, but now businesses are considering it as part of their business strategy, mainly because they are increasingly being held accountable for the way they handle data privacy.

"Being able to manage your customer is not just to adhere to government regulations, but also to adhere to that contract of trust that your customers expect, because they're giving you more data than ever before because they want to have a personalised experience with you," he said.

Oram went on to explain that CRM extends to every single touchpoint and concept that a company has working with a customer, which can include being business to business, business to consumer, commerce, or marketing centric.

"Our view about the world of business is there is a person with a problem, and they need to be connected with a person with a solution," he said.

Oram suggested that businesses focus on customer loyalty and they way operate.

"This means aligning your brand philosophy around the people you hire, your business processes, the data, the technology, and the application, because it will drive your interaction, and that's the maturation we're seeing in the CRM industry," he said.

One of SugarCRM's biggest customers in Australia, Macquarie University, is taking advantage of CRM. Oram said the university not only retains a relationship with its students during the time they are studying their degree, but at other points of the business-customer lifecycle.

"For Macquarie University, the CRM process involves the process of signing up new students, working with alumni, handling every student requests, and donor management," he said.

"CRM has become particularly important for them, because it's extremely competitive to recruit the high dollar value students, who are international students."

According to Gartner Research, CRM will represent the largest segment of enterprise software by 2017 — eclipsing even ERP and analytics — increasing to a $36.5 billion worldwide market.

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