Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is an information technology industry term for methodologies, strategies, software, and other web-based capabilities that help an enterprise organize and manage customer relationships. What does all this mean? The best analogy is that CRM is a return, in principle, to the days of the “mom and pop” corner stores. In those days, store owners not only knew you, they also knew what you liked. With this information, they were able to make proper recommendations on products.
Today’s markets extend much further than your local neighborhoods. Global enterprises require CRM to manage the nearly infinite amount of information that can be gathered about their customers, potential customers, vendors, distributors, etc. For example, “if a marketing department runs an outbound campaign, all of the information about the customers and the program should be retained for the sales staff to follow up on, the customer service representatives to answer any queries, and technical support to provided any field support. The idea is to have the same information available to all in the company so that any product or service need of the customer is met. CRM implies that everyone in the enterprise is focused on the customer.”
So where did this great idea come from? In the beginning, there were sales departments and account managers using Personal Information Managers, or PIMs, to allow them to keep track of contact information such as name, address, phone number, etc. At the same time, we had the customer service and technical departments using a completely separate help desk or call center application to keep track of issues or “tickets” pertaining to a customer. These applications also required the same contact information to be entered. As a result, “double-entry” was very common. In addition, account managers didn’t have access to pending issues with their clients. Information that is vital to better manage the account.
Though Customer Relationship Management has been around for quite some time, it has experienced many changes, both in thought and function, along the way. Many people consider the beginning of CRM, as we know it now, to date back to the late 1990s when Siebel Systems acquired Scopus. Siebel System, at the time, was the leader in Sales Force Automation, or SFA, and Scopus was the leader in Call-Center Automation. “The marriage, many say, put Siebel on the path to dominate the CRM marketplace, once that opportunity began to unfold. More importantly, the combination of call center automation and sales force automation became the working definition of what was considered essential to a good CRM suite.”
So how does this all fit together? In essence, an enterprise takes its data warehouse or collection of databases and overlays a CRM suite with the ability to integrate with back office applications. This complete package is then used by all departments in an organization to make more informative cold calls, create a better website, or make better decisions on the field when dealing with clients, suppliers, or any point of contact.
The same is true in the other direction. The database must be dynamic, with information gathered from every possible access point and entered into the database. This ensures that the data stays current.
Back Office Application Integration
Shift in Business Strategies