CRM as a business strategy
Breaking through silos has always been one of the strategic goals of CRM – Customer Relationship Management. A company can only be really customer focused when close cooperation is established between (at least) marketing, sales and service. The walls between departments are to be demolished by introducing customer goals (keep, develop, acquire, activate) that necessitates the desired cooperation.
In order to realize a customer centered business strategy, supporting technology has been developed. Since the 90’s of the past century central customer databases were used, so that employees from different departments could access the same customer information. Additional functionality was developed to enable registrations of customer contacts that could be shared with colleagues. The so called ‘customer contact history’ created the possibility to improve internal communication about customers, as well as better coordinated customer contacts. The customer database also served a purpose by enabling targeted marketing communication, made possible by selecting customers and prospects using analytics.
Where are we now?
In the majority of cases CRM systems have been installed to get more grip on the sales process. The brand name of the current CRM systems market leader is not by accident SalesForce. At the same time it can be observed that CRM systems are not very successful in a sales environment. The way of working and mentality of sales people do not match very well with the required structured approach. CRM systems have been most successful to support activities of customer service departments. That is a controlled setting in which employees are using the CRM system continuously. Although most of the leading systems deliver a marketing module, the functionality that’s offered is insufficient for professional campaign management in general and emailings in particular. The marketing department is not really included in the CRM ecosystem. An even more serious flaw of traditional CRM systems is the lack of connection with the online world, i.e. CMS systems and social media. The leading vendors are trying to fix this by acquiring point solutions, but that creates an integration challenge at the same time.
The CRM silo and Marketing Technology
CRM as a business strategy is still alive and kicking. It is hard to find companies these days that do not claim to be customer centric. CRM systems though have not delivered their promises to provide the front troops (marketing, sales, service) of companies more clout. CRM systems have become a silo surrounded by the turbulent internet world. We can only hope that new ‘web-native’ players will better support the fundamental demand to create better cooperation between commercial departments. Under the heading of ‘Marketing Technology’ we see an overwhelming supply of new functionalities for marketing, sales and service. The crux of the matter is that with these new technologies CRM, i.e. customer centric entrepreneurship, will get a new chance to be realized.