While more than half of business leaders acknowledge that meeting customer needs is critical to developing sustainable competitive advantage, a mere one in ten CRM users believe their system is up to accurately analysing and profiling them.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, according to studies undertaken by market researcher Ipsos MORI some 44% of managers felt that one of their biggest challenges was trying to ensure that every action they took as a business was geared to meeting the needs of different types of customers. Less than a quarter said they were good at such activity, however.
Moreover, despite the fact that 72% of Chartered Institute of Marketing members with CRM applications in place believed that there has been a fundamental shift in customer behaviour and spending patterns since the start of the recession, three-quarters said that their department only had low levels of visibility into relevant enterprise-wide customer data.
This situation has come about even though more than four-fifths of business leaders now regularly have to reports customer satisfaction and loyalty metrics to the board, up 14% on last year. About two-thirds also use such measures to set performance targets or decide on bonuses, up 18% on the previous year.
Another key challenge for managers, however, related to offering consumers the best value products and services compared with rivals (45% of respondents). As a result, just under half admitted that they had been forced to make changes to their product or services offerings since the start of the recession.
Ipsos Mori said of the situation: "Clearly the recession has forced many businesses to reappraise the way they do things. And, as times have got tougher, hard measures of customer satisfaction and loyalty have become more influential."
This trend, it added, was unlikely to reverse, particularly given the rise of social media, which meant that customers’ voices were becoming harder and harder to ignore.
"The challenge for the boardroom – and the rest of the business – is how to piece together the different bits of the customer jigsaw to build stronger customer relationships," the market researcher said.