I was a little puzzled by the contradictions in David Reed’s article “Great Expectations” (MW April 29).
It suggests that many companies claiming to provide customer relationship management solutions are in fact providing no such thing – agreed. However, he then goes on to quote the opinions of a string of software companies which are doing precisely that.
The article opens with quotes from a book by Frederick Reichheld. I have read the book and attended lectures by Reichheld and the thrust of all his arguments is that CRM hinges on the attitude of a company’s management and staff and is not about information technology or clever marketing.
In fact, IT is not even mentioned in the index.
According to Reichheld, only companies which put their customers’ well-being at the top of their agenda will be able to successfully implement CRM. First you have to want to be the sort of company which allows a customer-centric vision to shade everything you do.
Without that vision, technology is irrelevant and the mere practice of CRM is unlikely to affect your success.
Which begs the question, who are the true champions of CRM? The IT department? The marketing department? CRM consultants? Or the senior executives who want to change the focus of the business to make it more customer centric? Logically, it has to be the latter.
Marketing and IT can be used to focus this energy, but on their own they are merely tools. The discussion so often centred on them is little more than hype, since the arguments put forward are usually a thinly-veiled sales drive by IT software companies and consultancies.
In fact, some of the companies quoted actually sell enterprise resource planning software designed to improve internal processes and make them Year 2000 compliant – not dedicated CRM software. Such software has little to do with customer retention, loyalty or service. These companies are merely latching on to a new way of selling their product.
This sort of software is essentially inward looking, created to deal with handling customer information efficiently and maximising profit from it.
This is not CRM.
Your article suggests that the driving force behind CRM is either the call centre or campaign management, but anyone doing it from either of these points is definitely doing it for the wrong reasons.
CRM is about having a fundamental view of the way a business should be run, with the customer at the centre of everything you do.
Your readers should be sceptical about any supplier which suggests you can adopt the mechanics without embracing the vision.
Business development manager