Research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc. surveyed 56 retailers in December 2000 about their 2001 business priorities and objectives. More than half of the respondents (52 percent) rated customer relationship management (CRM) as their highest business priority while 43 percent concluded that CRM is a moderate priority. Five percent didn't believe CRM was important and gave it a low priority rating.
However, even though most of the respondents agreed that customer service strategies were crucial to business, only 34 percent actually deployed any CRM initiatives. Gartner defined CRM as methods for bringing automation to each customer touch point and transferring ownership from customers up to the enterprise level -- away from individual departments and channels. The reason for the transfer is to make departments responsible for customer interactions, while making the enterprise responsible for the customer.
"CRM initiatives, in a short period of time, have gained significant mindshare because they offer to fill two of retailers' most critical needs -- understanding customer buying behavior and providing better customer information throughout the organization," said Carol Ferrara-Zarb, research director for Gartner's CRM research group. "But CRM technology is still very immature. This level of immaturity in the short-term will hinder retailer's efforts to reap benefits. While sponsorship at the executive level is paramount, it's necessary to drive the CRM vision down to the execution level and foster cross-channel and cross-functional efforts." Ferrara-Zarb continued, "Retailers that fall into the trap of thinking they can accomplish CRM based solely on technology will fail. Retailers that succeed in CRM will be those that evaluate their processes in light of customer expectations, honestly assessing their strengths and weaknesses, then rebuild them based on what their customers want."
Gartner analysts will provide additional insight into CRM during its upcoming event, "CRM Summit Fall 2001 Customer Loyalty -- The Key to Profitable Growth," which will be held September 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Florida. Expert analysts will offer both strategic insights and actionable implementation plans designed to foster more customer-centric processes, as well as leverage technology and enhance your competitive advantage.
Additionally, the Summit will include key findings, such as identifying the strategic initiatives that CRM-focused market leaders in the retail industry will do through 2004. Those initiatives are: promoting merchandising, marketing, servicing and selling across channels; providing a consistent face to the consumer across all points of contact; capturing and leveraging knowledge across channels at a granular level; identifying, targeting and differentiating valuable consumers; and recognizing the lifetime value and profitability of consumers.
Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner helps more than 10,000 clients to achieve their business objectives through the use of technology by identifying market opportunities. Gartner, Inc. has more than 80 worldwide locations and includes Gartner Research, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events.