Whether your question is 'what is CRM?' or 'what CRM software should I use?', the answers to your questions are here...
Customer relationship management has been known to confound even those experts who have worked in the industry for years. So what hope is there for those approaching the field for the first time?
There is no agreed definition, but CRM is a blend of operational processes, methodologies and technologies that helps organisations create two-way interactions with customers, thereby enabling them to better understand and anticipate the behaviours, needs and wants of existing and potential customers.
Sales, marketing and customer service are just three of the functions that operate within the CRM framework, simultaneously drawing information from the customer database to facilitate interactions and also feeding new details gleaned from the contact back into the system - whether this be feedback, buying behaviour, etc.
MyCustomer.com has compiled a definitive list of articles and downloads from its extensive archives to revisit the most important facets of CRM - and ensure that customer relationship management can be understood by everybody.
What is CRM?
What is CRM and what does it consist of?
"There appears to be much confusion in the marketplace as to the exact nature of CRM, primarily because so many different developments are included within its scope. This has then been aggravated by software vendors trying to include their own products within the scope of CRM. This PowerPoint presentation by Richard Forsyth provides a simple introduction to the nature of CRM."
What is CRM?
"In the short time that the concept of CRM has been around, a great deal of confusion has arisen as to its precise meaning. Most of this stems from the activities of management consultants and software vendors who seek to apply their own stamp to the concept. In reality, CRM is a straightforward concept..."
The path to CRM success
"Successful companies build their business around the customer. They know who their most valuable customers are and understand their needs and buying habits. They target and tailor their offerings and personalise their interactions with their customers. They strive to become fully customer driven, delivering superior customer value and consistently providing exceptional customer experience across all customer touch points. Essentially, this is what CRM is about: it’s a customer-centric business strategy – not a technology."
How to get started with CRM
Often, the hardest part of implementing a CRM system is getting the project started. 'How to get started with CRM' discusses the key factors to consider when undertaking a CRM project; from setting objectives, developing KPI’s and performing a business assessment, to planning the implementation, potential pitfalls and much more.
Developing a CRM strategy
"The aim of the CRM strategy is to be able to find ways to deliver greater value to customers in more cost efficient ways that employees find satisfying. A CRM strategy has to be good for the customer, the employee and the organisation."
Developing a CRM vision and strategy
"What is a CRM strategy? This is common question and it does not help when answers differ. There is a lot of confusion between a CRM business strategy and a CRM implementation plan. A CRM strategy is the blueprint for how an enterprise is going to turn its customers into an asset by building up their value."
A strategic framework for CRM
"Power and choice are moving to the customer as never before and leading to the commoditisation of products and services in most situations. In this environment, product quality and features are a given, and in many industries are now so undifferentiated as to provide no significant competitive advantage. As a company, you must choose whether to compete on the basis of price in a cutthroat commodity market, or on the basis of customer relationships created through a superior value proposition."
Evolving your customer strategy to meet changing needs
"It is time to dust down the leadership device of strategy, build it around customers and add a strong flavouring of adaptiveness to suit the modern market environment. Combine this with good programme management and you have the tools for success."
The eight step survival guide to buying/implementing CRM software
Richard Boardman provides a step-by-step guide to avoiding the pitfalls of buying and implementing CRM software.
CRM buyers guide - How to choose the right CRM software for your business
"Where do you start? What do you want that you haven't got today? What customer information do you struggle with as a company and from department to department? CRM technology is now so developed it’s likely anything you’ll come up with will be possible, with any combination of requirements."
On-demand vs on-premise
"Software as a service (SaaS) has come a long way since Tom Siebel dismissed it as a 'doomed' model. Stuart Lauchlan traces the development of SaaS CRM - from the emergence of the next generation of applications firms such as Salesforce.com and NetSuite, to the hybrid models of Microsoft and SAP - and speaks to some of the most significant figures involved in the sector to find out what the future holds for the battle between on-demand and on-premise CRM."
The CRM guide to Cloud Computing
The term Cloud Computing is becoming more familiar but what is it exactly and why is it so important to CRM? Stuart Lauchlan offers his guide and explains how CIOs are approaching doing business in the Cloud.
CRM market trends: what buyers need to know
"Companies are needing to invest in their customer relationship management capabilities as part of their focus on growth, and in many areas software can help drive this growth. However, there are several CRM market trends occurring that buyers should be aware of."
CRM: Hosted or on-premise?
"You are the IT director of your organisation and you have decided you need customer relationship management software so your organisation can learn more about your customers. However, you now face the dilemma of whether to go for a hosted or on-premise solution. Choosing between the two seems harder than you initially thought, so here are a few pointers to help make your decision a little easier."
The six hidden traps of CRM system implementation
"While the instances of outright failure are few and far between these days, CRM technology implementation projects continue to be a source of pain and frustration. Recent research relating to IT projects in general indicated that the average project came in 56% over budget and 84% later than expected."
10 ways to implement CRM on a tight budget
"With the economic environment getting tougher, the need for effective CRM systems increases. But with budgets often getting tighter, the scope to introduce much needed technology decreases."
Avoid nasty surprises: What you should cost into a CRM programme
"The chastening early experiences of CRM investment are slowly fading from memory and firms are once again starting to loosen their wallets when it comes to customer relationship management. Nonetheless, there are plenty of nasty surprises lying in wait for firms if the cost process isn’t grasped."
How to make software as a service (SaaS) CRM a success
"Make sure you have a business case in place. Do you know why you're choosing to go down the SaaS route? Weigh SaaS against on-premises on criteria more comprehensive than just cost tradeoffs alone."
Is internal CRM the key to a harmonious organisation?
"The implementation of I-CRM should aim to see processes and knowledge mature in a variety of areas: IT management should evolve to understand business and then actively encourage IT staff to understand it, with a view to requiring it of all staff; similarly, business managers should improve understanding of IT."
CRM - Inside out: The hidden customer
"One way of thinking about business that is most certainly sensible and which also has the potential to make an enormous impact on the bottom line is the idea of applying customer relationship management thinking within an organisation rather than only to external customers."
Six tips for mobile CRM success
"Ideally, companies should review potential mobile CRM applications before they need them to enable a greater analysis of the most appropriate solution for the business. But realistically, a company needs to implement a system as soon as any of its employees need access to customer and transactional data whilst out of the office."
The business case for mobile CRM
"Facing the prospects of a global recession, corporations are under increasing pressure to win over new customers and keep existing ones. The most critical personnel in this battle are sale representatives and field service technicians. Mobile CRM solutions provide these front-line customer ambassadors with an invaluable competitive edge."
About Louise Druce
Louise is a freelance online editor and features writer. An NCTJ-trained journalist, she began her career as a reporter for the Weston & Somerset Mercury newspaper in 1999 before joining Central Press Features to write consumer features for print media and the Fish4 websites. She then moved to The Netherlands to work for the European Journalism Centre, helping to launch a website and several publications in conjunction with the European Commission.
On moving back to the UK in 2003, she became a features writer and then editor for GDS International, writing across the publisher’s broad portfolio of B2B titles. She joined Sift Media in 2007, becoming editor of MyCustomer.com and KnowledgeBoard.com until November 2009.