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Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

15 January, 2016 - 09:49


Customer relationship management systems (CRM) are systems designed to collect all of the data related to customers, such as marketing, field service, and contact management data. Over the past few years, CRM has become the primary focus of information systems managers and CIOs responsible for prioritizing new systems acquisitions. CRM has also become the focus of enterprise system vendors who realize the need to tap into this growing market and to integrate CRM data with the other data already residing within the enterprise system’s database.

The concept behind CRM is that better customer service means happier customers and greater sales—particularly repeat sales. Part of the concept is field-service support and contact management. Contact management facilitates the recording and storing of information related to each contact a salesperson has with a client and the context of the conversation or meeting. Additionally, each time the client makes contact regarding queries or service help, this information is also recorded as field service records. The result is that a salesperson can review all pertinent historical information before calling on a customer and be better prepared to provide that customer with targeted products and services. These systems also support the recording of information about the customer contact, such as spouse’s name, children, hobbies, etc., that help a salesperson make quality contact with a customer.

At the same time, the software supports the organizing and retrieving of information on historical sales activities and promotions planning. This facilitates the matching of sales promotions with customers’ buying trends. For example, the Ticketmaster vignette demonstrated how customer data can be used when competing over the Internet. This is a particularly crucial area for integration with any existing enterprise system as much of the information necessary to support sales analyses comes from data captured during the recording of sales event data in the enterprise system.

A third area prevalent in CRMs is support for customer service—particularly for phone operators handling customer support call-in centers. For many organizations, phone operators who have not had previous contact with the customer handle the bulk of customer service activities. The CRM quickly provides the phone operator with information on the customer’s history and usually links the operator with a database of solutions for various problems that a customer may have. These solutions may simply be warranty or contracts information, or at a more complex level, solutions to operations or maintenance problems on machinery or equipment. All of this information can be efficiently stored for quick retrieval by the system’s user.

Review Question

How do customer relationship management (CRM) systems aid a salesperson in providing service to customers?