Businesses Increase Customer Service Expenditure despite Economic Downturn

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Jupiter Media Metrix, specialists in internet and new technology analysis, have reported that 74% of businesses are planning to spend between 25% and 50% more money on their CRM infrastructure in 2001 than they did in 2000. Research suggests that, despite the current economic downturn, businesses are well advised to make these investments, as the number of individuals seeking online customer service is likely increase from 33 million in 2001 to 67 million in 2005. However, companies investing in online-only solutions may risk failing to advance customer satisfaction because they will not be able to foster consistent customer experiences across all channels.

Jupiter Media Metrix analyst, David Daniels, elaborates: "Although the current state of the economy is causing companies to cut costs in many areas of their businesses, customers still expect the same level of service. Customer satisfaction has always been a key metric for positive financial results. Businesses must not make CRM investments only to keep pace with growth—they should view their CRM spending as a strategic benefit that will bring higher levels of customer satisfaction and retention."

Further research into this area has yielded more insights, into the dynamics of CRM strategies in businesses: an Executive Survey performed by Jupiter Media Metrix, reveals that 63 percent of companies are using customer satisfaction metrics to assess the return on investment (ROI) of their CRM investments, while 33 percent rely on using cost savings achieved by reducing service staff as the best measurement of return. Analysts predict that businesses using customer-satisfaction ROI measures will not see a quick return on their CRM investments, because the rate at which satisfaction can be measured depends on how frequently and through which channels they interact with their customers.

Advancing customer satisfaction is always going to be an uphill climb. This is demonstrated by a Consumer Survey, whose results showed that only 41 percent of respondents were satisfied with the state of online customer service. However, Jupiter analysts have found that companies that adopt CRM systems with customer satisfaction in mind are likely to achieve revenue growth sooner than those that only strive for cost savings.

Given that redundant spending is forecast to cost Global 2000 companies between $3 billion and $4 billion over the next two years, it is vital that businesses ensure that disparate corporate goals and separate business units, which have led companies to invest in CRM solutions that failed to unify the customers' experience, become a thing of the past. Companies are advised to budget for CRM at the enterprise level with "c-level" ownership.
"To create a consistent customer experience and reduce redundant investments, companies must adopt a company-wide customer culture," Daniels explains. "This approach might require larger capital investments up-front, but the resulting business consolidation should cut managing costs by as much as 20 percent. In effect, companies have been buying separate CRM systems to service the same customer base."

www.jmm.com

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