Prepare a short paper that briefly outlines the relevant and up-to-date issues associated with your chosen CRM topic………
According to Coravue (2010) the term customer relationship management (CRM) originated from the need for organizations to manage and improve the relationship with their customers. Customer relationship management involves using tools that unify and maximize the performance of sales and marketing functions in an organization. By tracking interactions that lead to sales, it is easier to manage, maintain and nurture customer relationship. Customer relationship management can therefore be defined as a technique which is aimed at providing information to customers and prospective customers and collecting information from the customers and the prospective customers to allow the organization assist them in evaluating and purchasing products that would deliver the best value. The main intention of using a customer management approach is generally to make the customer do business with the organization in an easier way.
Customer relationship management software automates the processes of marketing including execution of the campaign, web advertising, brand management collateral management, and leads in the qualification distribution. The customer relationship management software addresses various needs in the organization including distribution, sales, customer service, support and marketing. Customer relationship management marketing software therefore automates various individual and collaborative activities, personalization, marketing resources, primary research and surveying and provides customers with self service support. The software also tracks web activities for designing cross-sell or up-sell programs (Wood, 2010). Customer relationship management software generally uses a central database to bring sales and marketing activities together in an approach that is unified in order to serve customers efficiently (Coravue 2010).
CRM marketing automation
In Customer relationship management marketing automation, technologies involving both sales and marketing are integrated. The departments of sales and marketing in an organization therefore will have a level of granularity that is deeper on campaign and prospects performance. The integration enables an approach to sales and marketing that manages properly and maximizes on the use of information and communication technology (Aberdeen group, 2007). With customer relationship management automated marketing, marketing processes are optimized from data management and creative development to production and distribution. There are therefore numerous benefits that accrue from the automation process.
The major benefit of the automation is that it enables the sales and marketing teams of an organization to work as a team. Teamwork ensures the customer being served is satisfied as much as possible. Using the centralized database, the team is able to guide the customer through the early stages of awareness and interest building, evaluation of the purchase options and the actual purchase. This guided experience enables the customer to have the best purchase that satisfies the intended need. Another benefit from the automation of the customer relationship management marketing is that the sales and marketing teams are able to track the customer life cycle. From this tracking the team is able to know many things about the customer including what attracts them to advertisements, the benefits they seek to obtain from the products, the features of the product that inspire their confidence, the most efficient market activities that attract enquiries, the performance of various sales persons and the cost of the marketing tools employed. This information is very invaluable in formulating future marketing strategies (Coravue 2010).
The other benefit of automating the customer relationship management marketing is that it saves on the costs incurred by the organization in the marketing process. This is due to increased revenue as a result of better customer satisfaction. There is also reduction of the cost of sales and distribution due to the management of customer relationships instead of managing the product and the minimizing the costs of customer support since information about the customer’s history and preferences is available to the customer service representatives. The automation also involves call center management which is able to capture customer feedback information that can be used in measurement of performance, quality control and development of the product (Gray & Byun, 2009).
According to Phillip & Sedon (2006), the benefits of automated customer relationship management automation marketing include centralized customer and sales data which enables quick access to marketing information both for analysis and reference. The organization is also able to track customer responses and referrals. The automated system also enables the organization to perform forecasting of the future sales trends which is an important tool in making management decisions. The management can also use the system to analyze historical trends of the sales teams and therefore make decisions concerning sales territory realignment and redistribution of the sales representatives. The other benefit of the automated customer relationship management marketing automation is its scalable nature. If it is implemented for a small or medium organization, the system hold the capability to grow with the organization and therefore the organization may not need to acquire a new system when it grows big enough but will instead upgrade the current system.
Automated customer relationship management marketing systems also have the capability for customization and reconfiguration. This enables the organization that is using the system to customize and reconfigure it incase of any changes in the sales and marketing structures that may need the change. The system can also be integrated with other systems such as the accounting and other management systems enabling other people in the company access to customer information which may be necessary for making critical management decisions. Lastly the automated systems are more flexible and secure and can therefore allow relevant personnel to view any relevant information while at the same time locking out any other personnel that should not be allowed to view the information which may be detrimental to the organization (Phillip & Sedon 2006).
The automated customer relationship management marketing has disadvantages as well. The greatest disadvantage being that it is expensive to implement the system especially in an organization which had not automated its operations before. The costs involve the cost of acquiring the automated system, the cost of training the sales and marketing staff and the costs due to slow performance during the early stages before the staff get used to the system. Some of the sales and marketing staff may find the system difficult to work with in the beginning while other critics have argued that automating the process dehumanizes a process that should be done personal with people interaction. There is also the need to continuously update and maintain the system as well as upgrading the system at the time when it can no longer work well in the organization due to change of structures or expansion. Even though the automated system includes security features, it is still susceptible to attacks by hackers, viruses and worms which can cripple the operations of the organization and affect its productivity negatively ().
According to Dascalos (2009) when implementing an automated customer relationship management system for marketing, the strategy may involve seven critical steps. The first step is to device a clear business strategy with clear goals and well defined objectives. The objectives will provide the organization with a chance to visualize the benefits of the new automated system that it intends to adopt. After devising a clear strategy the next step to undertake is to evaluate the system by having all the groups that intend to use the system provide an outline of the current business and sales processes in order to ensure that the practices are incorporated in the new system. It is also important to consider the existing data sources which will be needed in determining how to capture data in the automated system.
The next step in the strategy is to view the new system from a critical perspective and determine the process enhancements. Process enhancements help establish the relationships between various components in the customer relationship management system strategy. The system will therefore be able to realize all the possible enhancements and therefore support greater capability more efficiently. The next step is then to document the customer relationship management system requirement and to select an appropriate vendor to supply the system according to the business requirements in the specifications. By ensuring the automation potential is carefully established and the strategy is well specified it will be possible to choose the best vendor tom supply the system (Dascalos, 2009).
After the vendor has been selected, the next step involves determining the infrastructure requirements for the new system. The requirements determine if the organization will depend on a service provider or will venture into building an in-house system. Depending on the organization’s readiness in terms of the infrastructure and personnel, it may opt to acquire a system to be used in-house or rely on service provider to provide the services. After the decision is made, the organization can then implement the new system. The implementation stage should involve personnel from both sides to ensure that strategy that was established earlier on during the planning stage is implemented appropriately. The new system will then be implemented and configured and customized to meet the needs of the organization. Immediately after the system is well configured, it is important that customized training is provided to the staff that is going to be using the system. The training should be clearly used to show how the new system will be used to enhance critical sales and business processes (Dascalos, 2009).
From the system, the sales representatives must know how to get information and use the system to identify and reach potential clients. Customer service representative should learn how to locate information from the database and the management should learn how to analyze data and use it in decision making. The information technology staff should learn how to provide support to the other staff as well as how to enhance the system as changes occur in the organization (Dascalos, 2009).
Aberdeen group, (2007). The convergence of sales and marketing technologies. Boston: Aberdeen group.
Coravue (2010), CRM: Taking one-to-one marketing to the next level. An executive white paper. Los Angeles: Coravue Inc.
Dascalos, P. M. (2009). Seven critical steps to a successful CRM solution. SEI information technology, Los Angeles.
Gray, P. and Byun, J. (2009), Customer Relationship Management, University of California
Phillip, P. B. and Sedon, F. (2006). Benefits from CRM-based work systems. The University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
Wood, L. (2010). Research and Markets: Global Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Marketing Automation. New York: Business wire
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