CRM technologies and data

Database technology is at the heart of delivering these CRM applications. Often the database is accessible through an intranet web site accessed by employees or an extranet accessed by customers or partners provides an interface onto the entire customer relationship management system. E-mail is used to manage many of the inbound, outbound and internal communications managed by the CRM system. A workflow system is often used for automating CRM processes. For example, a workflow system can remind sales representatives about customer contacts or can be used to manage service delivery such as the many stages of arranging a mortgage. The three main types of customer data held as tables in customer databases for CRM are typically:

1 Personal and profile data. These include contact details and characteristics for profiling customers such as age and sex (B2C), and business size, industry sector and individual's role in the buying decision (B2B).

2 Transaction data. A record of each purchase transaction including specific product purchased, quantities, category, location, date and time and channel where purchased.

3 Communications data. A record of which customers have been targeted by campaigns, and their response to them (outbound communications). Also includes a record of inbound enquiries and sales representative visits and reports (B2B).

The behavioural data available through 2 and 3 are very important for targeting customers to more closely meet their needs.

Research completed by Stone et al. (2001) illustrates how customer data collected through CRM applications can be used for marketing. The types of data that are held, together with the frequency of their usage, are:

• basic customer information (75%);

Web self-service

Customers perform information requests and transactions 3

through a web interface rather than by contact with customer support 4 staff. 5

KEY CONCEPTS OF ELECTRONIC CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT IE-CRM)

The data within CRM systems were reported to be used for marketing applications as follows:

Despite these benefits, it should be noted that in 2000, it was reported that around 75% of CRM projects failed in terms of delivering a return on investment or completion on time. This is not necessarily indicative of weaknesses in the CRM concept, rather it indicates the difficulty of implementing a complex information system that requires substantial changes to organisations' processes and major impacts on the staff that conduct them. Such failure rates occur in many other information systems projects.

Read Mini Case Study 6.2 'Customer data management at Deutsche Bank' for an example of the practical realities of managing customer data in a large organisation.

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