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CRM - Its Relevance

In today's demanding economy, the first line of any business during economic uncertainty is to get closer to the customer. Customers often want information along with a quote or invoice on the spot. With lack of information, the customers do not fix loyalty to a particular product or service and tend to depend on impulse decision. The companies are no exception to this. In the process "hot prospects" turn ice cold. Speed of information flow and speed of converting information into prospect are vital factors for survival. So access to data is a must. E-business has revolutionized the way for business to interact with customers.

What is CRM?

Business's effort to get closer to a customer is considered Customer / Constituent Relationship Management (CRM). CRM is a concept that combines management thought and business practices. CRM is about developing, implementing business strategies through supporting technologies to narrow down the gap between an organization's current and potential performance in terms of customer acquisition, growth, and retention. The sole purpose of CRM is to connecting the company to its customers and providing direct support. It is an effort of the business to personalize, source business intelligence and warehousing customers' requirements.

CRM is re-designing of functional activities to drive the process of re-engineering. Its focus is on managing and optimizing the entire customer life cycle. Customer / Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) encompass the totality of the business processes that an organization performs to identify, select, acquire, develop and retain its customers. CRM encompass a wide breadth of functionality. CRM improves Return on Assets. The asset in this case is the customer and potential customer base. In other words, Customer / Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) refer to management of all interactions with the customer that an enterprise indulges in.

Why CRM?

Today, enterprises are finding that they no longer have the initiative. Customers are now empowered by ready access to information and have greater access to businesses than ever before they are demanding. It is essential to excel with each customer by sales, service agents, traditional face-to-face interaction, while contacting by phone, fax, and e-mail correspondence.

Management is interested in improving productivity, profitability and enhancing management/operational information and reduction in cost of handling customers. The organisation is interested in high powered continuous information for analysis. CRM aims in improving the ability to plan and use finite resources, increase customer support, improve the customer experience, improve morale for customer support personnel and reduce the cost of providing service and support. CRM integrates all the different requirements of different functions to that of customer's requirements by co-coordinating and unifying all points of interaction to provide a big and better picture on customer satisfaction. This functionality is portrayed as:

? CRM (Customer / Constituent relationship management),

? CRM process management, and

? CRM access management.

CRM is critical to all industries, a dominant business driver. CRM based business objectives are for improving customer service, enhancing customer relationships and reducing distribution (channel) costs. Customer / Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) helps an enterprise build a database about its customers. Therefore, management, and functionaries of management could access information about all areas for value addition. Benefits of CRM

? To develop and design strategy for their business

? To develop business intelligence

? To develop innovative solution

? To improve customer service relationships as a competitive differentiator.

? To integrate customers' view in changing market conditions

? To achieve business objectives, increase service level commitment

? To provide investment protection by increasing profitability, productivity & cost reduction.

? To re-engineer business strategies.

? To transform business.

? To transform to a common form of user interaction with the enterprise.

? To identify primary determinants of loyalty.

? To understand the reason why customers defect.

Hurdles in implementation:

? Lack of awareness,

? Affordability

? Slow adoption rate,

? Lack of proper databases

? Usage of old processes

? Implementation of CRM in a phased manner.

? CRM is seen only as a technology that automates certain processes

? Lack of understanding of the concept

Conclusion

There are many reasons why CRM has not taken a leap. Though there are technologies and systems to gather useful information about their customers, they either not use the system to collect information or do not use the collected information. CRM solutions are seen among many as just a software packages for call centre management and not as a strategic initiative to customer relationship management.

An effective CRM is the one that enables an organization to easily gather critical information that becomes a valuable resource for improving both the top (revenue) and the bottom (profit) lines. The top line is improved by increasing sales through better data management, and improving marketing effectiveness by collecting, analyzing, and using valuable customer information. The bottom line is improved by reducing service times and costs, and by improving the general productivity of the staff.

Some realise the importance of service as a differentiator due to stringent competition. It is service that drives organization to CRM solutions. This will only change when management truly understands and is committed to CRM as a way of doing business. A total appreciation of CRM is gaining momentum.

J. Solomon Prabakar

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