Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Customer Module: After Years of Trying, CRM Still Hasn't Got a Single Place to Capture and Analyze Relevant Customer Data

Magazine article CRM Magazine

The Customer Module: After Years of Trying, CRM Still Hasn't Got a Single Place to Capture and Analyze Relevant Customer Data

Article excerpt

IS IT TIME to add a customer module to CRM? The concept would provide companies with something they don't yet have: a single place within the CRM system to capture and analyze relevant customer data. We seem to be iterating in that direction. CRM 2.0 has attempted to find creative ways to embed social networking and media into CRM systems. It is the leading edge of a movement to shift the focus from the transaction to the customer, but you have to wonder how successful any such movement can be without a full complement of data.

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One of the loudest refrains in CRM has always been, "Who is the customer?"--a question we've only answered with snapshot analytics that lack real depth. The fact that CRM has been rather successful despite this deficiency says more about the market lifecycle than it does about our ability to know the customer. The marketplace has been dominated by early-lifecycle companies--vendors working hard to establish themselves and whose only concern was market share. For these vendors a transaction orientation was appropriate. But as markets continue to consolidate and competition becomes savvier, customer intimacy becomes essential to continued success.

Vendors now thrive by selling additional products and services to established customers; but those customers are now wiser and thus less likely to settle for the undifferentiated capabilities of a first-generation software offering.

It takes a higher level and greater depth of customer knowledge to understand needs, biases, and desires--and to be successful in the process. Any customer module providing that level of knowledge would have to include:

* A database for tracking customer demographic information that can be maintained by the customer as well as the vendor--much like a social networking site.

* A community interface through which the company could ask its customer base about product innovation, messaging, and anything else relevant to how the customer consumes its products and services. This interface, a kind of customer laboratory, would support typical bidirectional interactions with customers as well as one-to-many interactions. …

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