Harvard Business Review
The Idea in Brief
Frustrated by high costs and dubious payoffs, managers that used the first customer relationship management (CRM) systems came to view them as over-hyped IT investments. Accordingly, CRM spending plummeted between 2001 and 2003. But now CRM system sales are soaring, as executives from a wide variety of industries tout CRM's value.
What's changed? Rather than trying to transform entire businesses through full-scale CRM implementations, companies are applying CRM in disciplined, focused ways—and getting more from it. How to realize the same benefits from your CRM initiatives? Use CRM to solve highly specific customer-relationship challenges—such as accurately diagnosing call center customers' problems. Invest in real-time information—the holy grail of CRM—only where it's needed. For example, a hotel manager requires real-time data on room availability, not on customers' opinions about room decor. Equally crucial, use what you learn from successful smaller CRM projects to tackle larger problems.
By knowing where in your business to deploy CRM, and how, you stand to score impressive revenue gains—as companies like Kimberly-Clark, Ingersoll-Rand, and Brother have done.