3 min read

CRM Has Passed Its Sell-By Date

Managing customer relationships needs a much broader approach.


For the last 15 or so years, customer relationship management (CRM) has been viewed as a single application that supports the process of managing customer relationships. It has been closely identified with the call center, where agents use the software to record details of calls and the actions they took to resolve those calls. Management analyzed the output to get feedback on how agents were performing and how the next interaction with customers should be handled. Mature companies also used the data to drive outbound sales campaigns to targeted customers. But few companies got the return on investment they expected, and customer satisfaction did not increase.

CRM also was supposed to provide a 360-degree view of the customer so that companies could decide how to manage each relationship. But with customer data dispersed among multiple systems, this proved impossible. Our recent research shows that only 34 percent of companies have deployed the technology required to analyze data from these enterprise-wide data sources. And the situation is becoming even more complex as companies add new customer contact channels such as e-mail, the Web, online chat, TV and video, and as virtualization of the center leads various lines of business to get more involved in handling customer interactions. Software vendors such as SAP and recognize this and are beginning to emphasize that their products support not just customer service but marketing and sales. Ventana Research believes this is a promising start, but companies need to go further: They need to examine all the processes that impact their customers and plan to build an information management architecture that can deliver the customer knowledge required to drive sustainable business growth.

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