All About Customer Relationship Management (CRM) (1,592 words)
In today's competitive arena, marketing the right product to the right person at the right time can spell success. Customer relationship management (CRM) technologies can help. But how do you decide what solutions to select?
David M. Raab, a marketing technology consultant and partner of Chappaqua, NY-based Raab Associates, is considered one of the top industry experts on CRM systems. Ed Fischer, contributing editor of Target Marketing magazine, talked with Raab about the state of CRM technology and how marketers can better select solutions that meet their needs.
Target Marketing: What is an adequate definition of CRM? What exactly qualifies as CRM software?
David Raab: The basic idea is that interactions with a customer should be consciously managed to optimize the value of the customer's relationship with the company. The key concept to understand is that this encompasses all interactions, including customer service and support—not just the sales interactions that are the traditional focus of marketing.
Given this definition, any software that interacts with customers or helps guide those interactions would qualify as CRM software. In practical terms, this means CRM software encompasses customer contact systems such as call center, Web site and field sales/service, as well as traditional marketing tools such as outbound campaign management and data analysis systems.
TM: Who are the market leaders in CRM technology today, and why?
Raab: If you accept my broad definition of CRM, then the leaders are the major providers of customer contact systems: companies such as Siebel and Nortel for call centers and sales automation, and Broadvision and ATG for Web servers. That's because customer contact systems have a lot of users and therefore cost a lot more money than products such as campaign managers, which are used by only a small number of marketers.
Within the marketer-oriented segment, leaders would include Xchange and E.piphany.
David Raab is a consultant specializing in marketing technology and analytics. His clients include major brands in publishing, retail, financial services, telecommunications, technology, and other industries. His early career was spent in magazine circulation and direct mail continuity marketing. He is founder and CEO of the Customer Data Platform Institute.