An Overview of CRM as a Business Strategy
In recent years, companies have started to focus on the concept of the customer as a business asset – an asset that needs to be actively managed to get the best return on investment. Companies can then use the information gained from their relationship with their customers to help deliver better products and personalized service, and to facilitate individualized marketing. This is necessary nowadays, when the main difference between competing companies is often nothing more than the relationship they have with their customers. Everything but the relationship can be copied from the competition.
Some people define CRM in terms of the software applications required to deal with customers, but it is better defined as a whole business strategy: a way of thinking, in which companies no longer concentrate only on their own products and services, but instead start to concentrate more on their customers in order to be more competitive. After all, without customers there would be no business or profit.
An equally important part of a CRM strategy is the relationship to other parts of the supply chain. To involve the suppliers and the resellers in the CRM strategy makes the customer-centric approach a wholehearted way of doing better business. For the customers, it means the company can meet and exceed their expectations regarding exact deliveries, precise invoicing and efficient service.
Hence, better management of customer relationships is not just a technology issue. Businesses committed to successful CRM must first initiate the cultural change necessary to ensure that any CRM technology acquired can be effective. This means re-aligning whole organizational structures and individual mind-sets to focus on the customer. Indeed, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 75% of successful CRM implementation is connected to process, people and culture, whereas only 25% is attributed to software.
The leadership needed for introducing CRM must come from the executive level, followed by the vision required to implement CRM successfully from top-level management. CRM is about people – behaviors, relationships and employee actions – so change management is essential for many projects. A top-level program management team that can coordinate the implementation of CRM throughout a whole organization best manages this. This ensures that as many members of the same workforce as possible can face the customer with the same goal in mind: to deliver superior customer service.