A recent study by the Gartner Group's CRM research group revealed that only a third of the e-tailers surveyed were deploying a CRM initiative.
"Customer Relationship Management (CRM) technologies are still relatively immature," notes Carol Ferrara-Zarb, research director for Gartner's CRM research group. "Perhaps this is why only 34 percent of retailers we surveyed were deploying a CRM solution."
Gartner believes that the critical milestone for achieving customer loyalty is an integrated view of customers. "Customer satisfaction equals customer loyalty," agrees Douglas Allred, Senior Vice President of Cisco Systems' Customer Advocacy group. "If your customer satisfaction is decreasing, you're in a death spiral."
Designed to help companies increase their bottom line by keeping track of customers and boosting revenues, a successful CRM strategy is crucial to the beleaguered dot-com scene where customer retention is the single most important concern. Gartner studies show, however, that although 96% of e-tailers regard it as critical, only a handful actually put it into practice. "It's pretty endemic that there is a lack of satisfaction with the CRM programs to date," says Peter Grambs, principal in the IT group at Booz-Allen & Hamilton in New York City.
The major problem with CRM solutions to date, believes Grambs are heady costs, immature technology, and incorrect implementation. "CRM technology's immaturity in the short term will hinder retailers' efforts to see benefits," concurs Ferrara-Zarb.
Admittedly, the blame for faulty CRM doesn't always lie with software vendors - many companies are jumping head-first into lavish CRM projects without having defined clear strategies. Employees, too, are often reticent to adapt to new precepts and technologies.
Whilst vendors scramble to perfect the necessary technology, Gartner believes that companies can succeed in successfully implementing their own brand of CRM by actively promoting merchandising, marketing, servicing, and selling across all channels. Providing a consistent face to the consumer across all points of contact, advises Gartner, is also of utmost importance. Lastly, they advise, e-tailers must learn how to identify, target, and differentiate valuable consumers, recognizing their longterm value and profitability in the process.
Reprinted from www.sa.internet.com.