CRM innovation peaks – but customers gain
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The Traditional CRM market has reached its innovation peak, they say, having seen more than its share of changes and growth in recent years.

In 2000, the CRM market grew by 59%; and even in the face of an economic downtown, a recent AMR Research study shows that 87% of companies plan to leave budgets for CRM initiatives intact or even increase them.

The market has only existed as a known entity for a little more than five years, making its growth and acceptance even more remarkable.

The market’s growth shows that companies have finally heard the customer message loud and clear, and they’re buying technology to help them compete and succeed in the customer economy.

But a closer look at the market reveals a characteristic of this growth phase that you won’t hear in a vendor sales pitch; innovation in CRM is dramatically slowing.

So what does this mean for users, vendors, and ultimately, the growth of CRM?

What happened to the innovators?
As markets form, the initial leaders are the vendors that develop cutting-edge breakthroughs in technology, though admittedly these innovations are marketed long before they are ready to be delivered.

Over time, as these new concepts and technologies become more accepted, they move into more mainstream companies, growth rates skyrocket, and the innovators either become the leaders or become acquired by less innovative, but more financially-viable companies. CRM is now in such a phase.

The CRM market is undeniably growing with phenomenal speed. But as the market moves out of infancy and the revenue line moves up the chart, the innovation line heads south.

Many users spend a great deal of time and money investing in knowledge bases and interaction management for the contact center. While users in the weak economy are not reluctant to buy CRM software, they are extending the sales cycle to make sure their choices are the wisest.

The customer is king
And the wise trader remembers that the customer is king. As they say, get the believers to
believe and then have them spread the gospel for you – so keeping the client happy is sound commercial sense.

In the search for the holy grail of customer contentment, Satmetrix Systems has launched a benchmarking program that allow customers to add a new metric to the satisfaction levels they track: how satisfied their customers are in comparison to industry standards.

The Market Stat benchmarking analysis will track standards for customer satisfaction across seven verticals: financial services, telecommunications, high-tech, internet / eCommerce, utilities, pharmaceuticals, and insurance.

This new program is offered as a hosted service. A combination of software and services that provides users with a snapshot of customer satisfaction levels, it is a logical addition. After a support interaction, the system will question customers how satisfied they are; on average, a 20% to 25% customer response rate, a number that doubles if customers are asked twice. It then maps this data against other customer responses and against information in a company’s CRM systems to gauge satisfaction levels.

Getting your CRM act together
Customers do need to have their CRM act together before the system can really be of use – still an issue for many companies today.

There’s no question that this addresses the ongoing crusade to develop a loyal customer base, and Satmetrix is developing a loyal customer base of its own. By using the product, however, its customers – and CRM vendor partners – are being asked to put their money where their mouths are. All that talk about wanting to know how customers really feel is finally within reach.

Partnerships work
Vendors have been racing to distinguish themselves from others by partnering with eProcurement vendors and integrating their applications. In this environment, time-to-market and partnership are critical.

Ariba has allied with Comergent and OrderFusion, with the goal of integrating punchout functionality in their respective applications, and Commerce One has sell-side partnerships with fourthchannel, HAHT Commerce, Intershop, InterWorld, Ironside Technologies, and now Blue Martini with the intention of integrating the corresponding roundtrip functionality.

Though punchout and roundtrip are widely regarded as the prize for suppliers struggling to maintain their brands, and online marketplaces lonely for traffic, few suppliers are close to supporting the technology, and only a few more have order management systems that integrate with procurement platforms at all.

Blue Martini’s Adapter for Commerce One signals the next generation of alliance-driven technology. It is designed to let buyers and sellers transmit dynamic order specifics, such as pricing and availability, along with descriptive product content between order management and eProcurement applications.

With the ability to move product content directly from Blue Martini catalogs into Commerce One marketplaces, it may answer the prayers of many suppliers under pressure to bring their content to marketplaces quickly.

AMR Research

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