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Businesses Let Down By Traditional Data-Centric CRM, says Survey

Businesses across all sectors are committed to the concept of customer service and, as a result, are increasingly integrating their CRM systems within broader enterprise-wide customer strategies.

So finds a survey of enterprise businesses commissioned by Business Process Management market leader Pegasystems and scheduled to be discussed at the PegaWORLD 2007 Conference in Orlando, Florida, 28-31 October.

“Yet such organisations are set to repeat the mistakes of yesterday,” says Pegasystems marketing director, Jeremy Payne, “as they continue to invest in traditional, unresponsive data-centric CRM systems which concentrate on data aggregation, rather than more flexible process-centric solutions which can intelligently use that data to provide a truly customised customer service.

“It would seem that this is due to a lack of awareness that a real alternative exists,” he suggests, “as only 6 per cent of respondents believed that CRM systems can deliver or provide a fully personalised customer experience.”

Key survey findings include:
- 94% of respondents use their CRM systems primarily to improve customer service, with only 6% using them ‘primarily to save money;
- Further, 68% have integrated their CRM system within a broader customer strategy, with the financial services sector even higher, at 75%. “This positive response confirms the move away from viewing such implementations as essentially point solutions to point problems,” says Payne, “with CRM no longer simply a technology purchase but central to the delivery of customer satisfaction company-wide”;
- Better customer service is seen as the most important benefit of a CRM implementation by 34% of respondents, followed by central acquisition of data (27%) and intelligent use of customer data (18%);
- Over 50% confirm it is ‘difficult’ or ‘very difficult’ to change their CRM systems to stay up-to-date with the changing needs of the business, with financial services and manufacturing sectors finding this especially problematic;
- The complexity of typical call resolution was emphasised, as 66% of call centre agents typically have to use a further one or two systems or applications beyond their CRM system to resolve a customer query, with 22% requiring a further three to five.
Process-Centric Approach Needed
“Businesses clearly want to invest in supporting their customers,” says Pegasystems technical director, John Everhard.

“The tragedy is, however, that most will remain frustrated, continuing to spend money in dumb, unintelligent data-centric CRM solutions and expecting their experienced staff to manage multiple inflexible and unresponsive systems in order to deliver some degree of personalised service. This is surely a triumph of hope over experience,” he says.

Though mass-market penetration may still be some way off, he does however see encouraging signs that awareness of an intelligent alternative is beginning to grow.

“This year, for example, industry analyst, Forrester Group has published its first Process-Centric CRM Wave,” he says. “Similarly the analyst firm Gartner has published papers specifically relating to this approach for the first time.”

Proven solutions
For Payne, the survey confirms that there is real customer advantage to be had for those who adopt a process-centric CRM approach.

“By providing staff with tools enabling the creation of fully-customised processes designed around the intent of the customer, the business will achieve a dramatic increase in the level of individualised service – and so provide a truly differentiated offer which will steal a march on their competitors,” he believes.

Everhard agrees and adds: “Establishing processes which can intelligently use real time data is the only way to deliver consistent and efficient customer service. Crucially, this does not require businesses to take a chance with bleeding edge technologies: established and proven risk-free solutions exist which can deliver the level of mass personalisation to which the market clearly aspires.”

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.