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The insideEdge (SAPinsider Vol. 10, Iss. 1)

by Richard Campione | SAPinsider

January 1, 2009

Your customers are becoming smarter and better informed, and — most importantly — they are talking with each other about you.

Richard Campione
Senior Vice President
SAP Business Suite Solution Management

The balance of power is shifting. Your customers are becoming smarter and better informed, and — most importantly — they are talking with each other about you. This is the age of the empowered customer.

Today, a customer can walk into a store and, within seconds, whip out his or her iPhone and tap the Internet to conduct a price comparison with online retailers, read product reviews from other consumers, and find out what offers are available from other brick-and-mortar competitors within driving distance. Many companies are finding this massive shift of power to the consumer disconcerting, especially as product choices abound, price transparency increases, and channels proliferate. The democratization of information through the rapid emergence of social networking and online communities is having a significant impact on customer expectations and buying behavior.

This trend is also transforming the way organizations approach customer relationships. In such an environment, business strategies must adapt and customer relationship management (CRM) technologies must evolve as companies innovate ways to win new customers and keep existing ones. New communication and interaction channels need to be managed on top of traditional ones, and there's a much greater need for adaptability, responsiveness, and contextual collaboration in order to create superior customer value.

Customer relationship management is evolving into customer experience management. This means that your organization must act on three levels:

  1. Deliver on your promises to customers and meet their expectations with regard to quality, price, availability, and speed. This requires a technology solution that supports end-to-end business processes in an industry-specific context across and beyond the entire organization, effectively synchronizing front and back offices and efficiently mapping supply to demand.

  2. Strive for interaction excellence as customer interaction channels become sources of differentiation. Leverage technology to empower customer-facing employees and provide them with the tools they need to provide a consistent experience across multiple touch points. This includes technology to support mobile workers, as well as business communications management, which bridges the gap between multichannel communications and customer-facing business processes.

  3. Leverage contextual social media and collaboration by enriching structured data with unstructured data from outside of the enterprise. Harness the collective intelligence of online communities, get a sense of customer and market sentiments from forums, product reviews, and blogs, and turn this insight into action. Transform your business by transitioning from a transactional, interaction-focused CRM approach to a Web 2.0-enabled CRM strategy.
The feature articles in this issue of SAP Insider explain these three levels of the new CRM in more depth. I encourage you to carefully read them and gain valuable insight from the leading CRM experts at SAP.


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