Claims that customer relationship management (CRM) technologies are not living up to the hype created by vendors (ARN, September 2, page 9) are on the money in the opinion of leading consultants and systems integrators operating in the area.
Mark Camilleri, director of customer management systems with CRM-focused consultancy and systems integrator, SPL WorldGroup, said the technology behind "one-to-one marketing" strategies represents only 10 to 20 per cent of a CRM solution. Some CRM vendors would have you believe otherwise.
"The vendors like to think you just put in these systems and all these relationship management-type methodologies and sales just happen automatically. They don't," said Camilleri.
"There has been such a high failure rate in these systems on first implementation because of neglect of the human factor. For CRM technologies to deliver returns on investment, there need to be changes to management, training and indeed the whole focus of a business towards customer centricity."
Camilleri considered this to be the main reason why the CRM category is such an opportunity for the channel as they can help cut through all the marketing hype from vendors. CRM systems are about mapping every contact a customer has with an organisation, he said.
"That involves integrating many disparate back-end systems to put the relevant information at the fingertips of a customer's market touch-points. The channel offers the best independent solutions to achieve that."
Demand for strategy
Camilleri also revealed that Asian demand for CRM strategies - or "revenue enhancement technologies" - has gone through the roof with SPL increasing staff by 50 per cent to cope.
"Until the current crisis, Asian corporations were making money hand over fist," he said.
"They never considered the need to be customer centric before, but are now moving rap- idly towards the European and US style of management."
Gail Woodgate, director of Gail Woodgate Consulting which specialises in creating customer centric call centre environments for corporations, says she has observed a large number of organisations suffering from "post purchase dissidence".
"Lots of organisations are sitting there saying: 'Why the hell did I spend all this money on something that we don't really need or use?' That is because they didn't know what they wanted in the first place," Woodgate said.