Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is one of the hottest concepts
in the industry right now, yet one of the least understood. Why? Because
today’s CRM solutions barely resemble those of yesterday.
At first, so-called “Front Office Solutions” dealt primarily
with sales force automation, helpdesk, and database marketing tools. It
soon became clear that simply automating these individual functions was
not optimal. Each solution harbored customer information independently
of one another, which gave rise to unfortunate consequences, such as denial
of service at inopportune times in a customer negotiation, or bothersome,
ongoing mailings to customers who had already responded to previous promotional
offerings. Demand grew for integrated solutions, and the term “Customer
Relationship Management” was born.
Some CRM vendors responded with cross-departmental solutions that provided
enterprises with a more consistent view of their customers and, conversely,
customers with a more consistent experience across the review/purchase/support
cycle. More recently, we see vendors incorporating that highly coveted
lower-case “e” into their product names to reflect shiny,
new Web interfaces, through which customers can obtain product information
and pricing in a self-service fashion.
But is this enough? Not in my opinion.
The true goal of a CRM initiative is to make customers buy your products
and services again and again. Such customer loyalty has always conferred
a decisive competitive edge in the bricks-and-mortar world, and is even
more critical in the e-business arena. Because the Web makes it so easy
for e-customers to defect, you must constantly reexamine market conditions,
internal processes, and evolving customer requirements. You must further
recognize that all employees have a stake in delivering seamless, sterling
customer service “the first time, every time.” So analytic
functions and integration with all the people and processes that come
into play when servicing a customer must also be integral to a CRM solution.
This is precisely what we have done with mySAP CRM. The SAP approach
to CRM allows all individuals — employees, partners, and customers
— to collaborate in real time, making the customer the focal point,
and ultimately delivering better customer service. We enable companies
to drive business across multiple channels and synchronize information
from all customer touch points for a consistent 360-degree view of customer
information. Moreover, mySAP CRM includes an unrivaled complement of analytic
functions, including analytic support for campaign and promotion optimization,
marketing and sales performance analysis, customer behavior modeling,
and assessment of profitability.
But in the end, CRM is not just about the features of a particular software
solution; it’s a business philosophy. It means running your business
with a customer-facing focus, with all processes revolving around the
lifecycle of the customer. Partner with a CRM vendor who understands this,
and you can align the right activities necessary to build and sustain
customer loyalty. The payback will be substantial — stability, profitability,
Senior Vice President
GBU Customer Relationship Management, SAP AG