Time for CRM to live up to its promise

Poorly implemented customer relationship management systems are churning out bad results, according to a new assessment

Customer relationship management (CRM) initiatives have generally been poorly implemented -- leading to some miserable results -- even though the UK leads the way in how projects are put together.

Meta Group, interpreting new survey results, has called most efforts "extremely tactical with a weak focus on CRM as a change management activity". And one of the reasons for poor end results, according to the analyst house, is piecemeal, "often fudged" return on investment (ROI) measuring.

The assessment won't make for comfortable reading for many companies which have spent heavily on CRM-related software. In the UK, 71 percent of projects have top-level sponsorship within organisations, yet this involvement hasn't made that much difference.

According to Ashim Pal, International VP for CRM at Meta Group, most user organisations don't have the analytical capability to judge the effects of CRM projects. In most cases it is like "trying to determine the value of your car by measuring its oil pressure", he said in a statement.

Coinciding with the Meta findings is the release of a new book penned by IT services giant CSC, arguing failures have often been because of "a product-led agenda appropriate for product-led companies" -- meaning services companies like many in the financial sector don't feel the benefit of CRM.

The gap between customer expectations and their interaction with firms -- where the CRM comes into play -- then leads to discord as the two are so far apart.

CSC predicts expenditure on CRM will rise alongside general IT spending increases but that there are no guarantees it will deliver on the promise of mass customisation.

The CSC book, written by consultant Patrick Molineux and called Exploiting CRM: Connecting with Customers, is available from 29 November and is published by Hodder & Stoughton in association with the MCA (Management Consultancies Association).

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