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Success Guide to CRM From Information Technology Perspective

Info: 5420 words (22 pages) Dissertation
Published: 12th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Information TechnologyManagementConsumer Decisions


The research work is majorly classified into seven different sections. The first section deals with a brief description of CRM, its rise in the industry, its importance in the organizations and its evolution. The next section deals with Electronic Customer Relationship Management, which is the web-version of Customer Relationship Management deployable in organizations. It is a collection of work put together between various Front-end systems, Data-handling technologies and Back-end systems. All these put together form the backbone of Customer Relationship Management. Third section deals with the approaches to Customer Relationship Management. Customer Service,Campaign ManagementandSales Force Automation(SFA) are core of the CRM system and they are discussed in detail. Apart from which other modules such as Operational CRM, Analytical CRM is also presented with a brief description. Fourth section deals with the modules of Customer Relationship Management which needs to be taken into consideration for developing a CRM software solution. Primarily the modules of importance in most of the organizations such as Marketing module, Service module, Sales module, and Call center module are dealt with. Each of the modules is in turn covered in detail encompassing the finer divisions in individual module. Fifth section focuses on the types of Customer Relationship Management. Business-to-Business CRM, Business to -Consumer CRM and other CRM related application areas, technical functionality and support required are presented with. Additionally each section is illustrated in detail so that a future organization/individual can have a quick understanding of their requirements and adapt a one which meets their requirements. Sixth, seventh sections provide the list of software vendors, their existing products and how one can select a software as per the needs and requirements of the user. This piece of research work mainly focuses on enabling an individual to understand one’s requirements and facilitates the person in adopting a module which meets all the desired needs.

1. Introduction:

Information Technology has made a huge impact on how a business operates; thereby it is being seen as an important area of commerce which needs to be tapped. Despite the large scale investments in trying to automate a business entity, many businesses have failed to attract customers. The factors such as time frame of response, understanding customer needs and new ways to attract customers are making it difficult for the businesses to cope up with. Customers pose a key role in success of an e-business and it has called for extensive research in understanding the key areas of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in the field of Information technology. Customer Relationship Management from the Information Technology perspective is called as Electronic Customer Relationship Management (ECRM).

1.1 What is CRM?

In today’s market trend, customers are more educated, better informed, more technology aware and hence demanding more in the service they buy. So, the task becomes more challenging for business managers in attracting the profitable customers. Hence, small as well as big Information technology companies are working hard for maintaining good customer relationships and reaching customer satisfaction. To improve business strategy and plans, firstly, companies need to emphasis more on customers needs and behaviors in order to develop stronger customer relationships. The very first approach comes in this methodology is CRM. CRM stands for the customer relationship management. It is the process or methodology used to interact with customers, which will help bring together lots of information about customers, sales, marketing effectiveness, and customer responses and market trends. It helps businesses use available technology and resources to gain behavior and value of the customer. It broadly covers concepts used by companies to manage their customer relationships very effectively by capturing, storing and analyzing customer information. For example by having such database created with customers need, matching customer needs and product plans and offerings, knowing what other products customer had purchased, etc. can improve product quality, indirectly improving customer relationships. Thus, CRM is the one of the important aspect in the business industries. (Eric Williams 2006)

1.2 Evolution of CRM

CRM must start with an industry business strategy, which will offer positive changes in organization and work processes, which are then enabled by Information technology. In 1960s, academic researchers found that the 4Ps marketing framework i.e. product, price, place and promotion was less valuable than ongoing business relationships. By 1980s, marketing teams used to describe his new focus on understanding customer segment and achieving high customer satisfaction. In 1990s, CRM became the umbrella term; computer systems were deployed to support sales and service processes. By late 1990s, the real impact of these systems was outside the corporate world. Explosive growth in the internet usage broadened the concept as e-CRM to manage online customers. Now, multi-channel systems are available to support direct, internet and partner channels to allow user to use whatever mode of communication, they pleased. (Digital Publishing Solutions May 2007)

These systems could typically answer many of the questions such as:

  • How can oneself improve sales activities to have better idea of business improvement.
  • How one can improve capability for leading the generation, account management and opportunities.
  • How to make meaningful decisions on measuring the results from marketing campaign.
  • How to resolve customer service troubles, make queue time shorter, make customer happy by offerings.
  • All in all, how one can improve customer relationship.

To answer these questions, CRM was developed to provide best operating practices in sales, marketing and customer services. This is where, companies started using CRM to store customer history, real time activities accumulation, which each department could bring up a record and see all customer interactions.

1.3 Why is CRM important?

Everyone faces with the products and services at every single turn. But in realty, many of the product and service providers do actually not know the persons those using them. Major corporations failed to realize that it is the customer who is their biggest ally. Several millions of dollars are lost yearly because they failed to make profit, beat their competitors and stay ahead in this race. They wasted their money in marketing and endeavoring to gain the customers. They all are prone to make same mistake at some point of time. The main reason behind this failure was the attitude of companies towards their customers. The customer is the real king, who makes decision on failure and success of any service or product company. Many of the companies are not open to customer’s suggestions and more often that they do not provide the customer with a proper avenue and expel their ideas. This often leads to customer’s unhappiness and eventually their loss. Here comes the real need of the CRM. (Rick Cook, 2008)

CRM take into consideration the customer’s need and behavior towards services and products provided by companies. Companies can define their business strategy that primarily focuses on the customer, their ideas and suggestions. Benefits of CRM are listed below as business perspective:

  • Increased sales through better timing by analyzing needs based on historic databases.
  • Identifying improvement areas by understanding specific customer requirements.
  • Increasing business, by highlighting and suggesting alternatives or enhancements.
  • Identifying profit making customers.
  • Better marketing of products.
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction and retention.
  • Enhanced customer loyalty.
  • Improved quality communication and networking.
  • Increased overall efficiency with reduction of total cost of sales.
  • Better stand against global competition.

Once business starts to look after existing customers effectively, effort can be made to gain new customer thus expanding market value.

2. Electronic Customer Relationship Management:

Electronic Customer Relationship Management (ECRM) is the current trend with most business organizations be it small or large. The companies are hesitant in using the traditional strategies for running its businesses. The customers are treated as the most important part of the implementing a business strategy. That is the reason why ECRM has gained a lot of importance in the past decade. Romano (2001) defined ECRM as, “ECRM is concerned with attracting and keeping economically valuable customers and eliminating less profitable ones”.

This aspect of the CRM which deals with the customers over its online business portals helps to identify the key customers and by spending more resources on them to make the business run better. The solutions offered to these businesses are of wide range and they are often sold as a package at very high prices. The nature of a business plays a vital role as adopting these CRM packages is not only waste of money but also huge waste of time. This could even lead to loosing customer base which are absolutely essential for running business.

It is highly important to retain customers for a business as a recent study by McKinsey & Co. revealed that if there is gain of 10% repeat customers then it will add about a profit of 10% to the company (Sims, 2000). It is highly obvious that a successful business should try and retain customers even though it is at a cost of their own terms. It is important to understand the three requirements that a CRM must address to be successful from IT point of view.

2.1 Front-end Systems

In 2.1 shown below, the front-end systems constitute the key aspects of the business such as sales force & market automation, customer service automation and application software. In case of online business or retailer, sales force and market automation is totally dependent on how the website looks and what features does it provide in order to attract and retain customers. Tracking all the customers and identify the potential customers will help the managers to take important decisions and capture the market. Customer service automation is a must as it the only place for a customer to reach out if they need any help. It includes setting up of call centers, communication technology infrastructure and websites. As these represent the face of a business it is important to automate these technologies. (Boon et al. 2002)

2.2 Data-Handling technologies

The number of customers who shop increase day by day and it is impossible to keep track of them. As a result it has become obvious that one has to employ software tools which can manage the customer information and also be able to provide a proper links between them to help serve the customers. The techniques of data warehousing, data mining and knowledge management helps by making the CRM a better choice. In 2.1 below, the important modules which are part of data-handling technologies are shown.

Data warehousing manages the company’s data which is stored on a backend system and maintains the records regarding the data such as extracting, loading data in the repository and also managing the metadata. Data warehouses consists of business intelligent tools, tools to retrieve and manage data. Alex (2000) defines Data mining as a tool that automates the detection of relevant patterns within a database. The term explains how much a tool like this would help a business prosper; it gives the business, time to focus on the long term customers of the company and address various other issues. It helps in building strategy close to how the patterns reflect. Knowledge management uses the data warehouse and works as an intelligence tool by trying to establish new links within the data. For example, if a person searches for an item and if it is not found on the database then a tool like this could help the business by recording the information and possibly the customer. This improves the efficiency of business and customer satisfaction. These technologies are evidently a mark of the high standards a business can establish in order to survive their competitors within the global market (Compton, 2004).

2.3 Back-end Systems

It is the backbone of the business without which everything else goes in utter vain. The data integrity is often considered a major player in getting all the acts together i.e. by bringing together the front-end systems and data handling technologies. It is important to integrate technologies into CRM as it forms a good strategy to work along with all the applications within the system. (Boon et al. 2002)

The hierarchy present at the back-end systems as shown in 2.1 depicts the non-sales departments such as application software, enterprise wide applications, and ERP and supply chain management. In first stage, organization starts to analyze the Information systems available in place to suit their needs. The application software is deployed across the platforms they feel necessary and then it is important to establish a link between these applications which are called Enterprise Wide Applications (EWA). These help in interchanging the data between the application software and the systems. This could help the business establish all important background work as it highly important to maintain synergy between them and also update them whenever necessary to increase the speed with which they work. ERP forms the next stage of hierarchy wherein it integrates the EWA with the supply chain management which is a part of the front end and also data handling technologies. (Boon et al. 2002)

The technology is considered to be the key player for any organizational success as it can be seen from the above literature. ‘IT infrastructure generally has been described as a set of IT services, including communications management, standard management, security, IT education, service management, application management, data management and IT research and development’ (Hwang et. al., 2002).

ECRM is in short, the customer relationship management which is implemented electronically across the organizations. As CRM is mostly implemented as web based applications, the systems mentioned above play a crucial role in the management of CRM from small and medium businesses to very large scale organizations. Proceeding further, we will see various approaches in the implementation of CRM or ECRM.

3) Approaches to CRM:

There are different approaches to CRM implementation and it is presented in different packages focusing on different aspects. In generalCustomer Service,Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Campaign Management are considered as core aspects of the CRM system.

Customer service:

Customer service is the provision for the customers before, during and after the purchase. “Customer service is a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.” (Jamier L. Scott. 2006).

Its importance depends on the product, industry and customer. Customer service provided by a person or by automated mean as self-service (for example, Internet service). In bookRules are to break and Laws are to Follow, Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. wrote that “customers have memories. They will remember you, whether you remember them or not.” Further, “customer trust can be destroyed at once by a major service problem, or it can be undermined one day at a time, with a thousand small demonstrations of incompetence.”

From the point of organization view, customer service plays important role in generation of income and revenue. From this perspective, customer service must be included as part of the overall approach to the systematic improvement.

Campaign management:

It may happen that company may not always require all the details pertaining to particular customer’s history. In such cases to avoid large sending of data and insecurity, many of the organizations prefer campaign management. Enterprise campaign management solutions allow customer to provide centralized databases to send one or multiple dialers. Rather than sending down all the record, part of the record will be send as and when required. This simplifies the management of the complex dialing campaigns.

Sales Force Automation:

These are the information systems, which automatically records all the stages in a sale process. Such systems keep track of the all contacts that has been made with the customer, purpose of the contact, and any follow up that might be required. This ensures that sales efforts will not be duplicated, reducing the business risks. It also lists potential customers of related products. It might happen that different department may contact same customer number of times for same purpose. To avoid such a risk, SFA must be fully integrated in all the departments that deal with customer service management.

3.1 Various approaches of CRM:

  • Operational CRM
  • Analytical CRM
  • Sales Intelligence CRM
  • Campaign management
  • Collaborative CRM
  • Consumer Relationship CRM

(White PaperonArchitecture for CRM approachesin Financial Services)

Operational CRM:

Operational CRM provides support for front end business processes, which includes sales, marketing and services. Interactions with customers are generally stored in customer’s database history and company staff can retrieve information as and when required. So, the need for direct contact with customer for his requirement details will be eliminated and reaching to the customer at right time and right place will be more preferable. Operational CRM processes customer’s data for various purposes such as managing campaign, marketing automation, sales force automation, sales management system, etc. Few of the benefits of the operational CRM systems are as follows:

  • It delivers personalized and effective sales, marketing and service through multiple channels.
  • Enable 360 degree view of the customer’s details while interacting with them.
  • Sales or service department can easily access history of the all customers’ interaction, without referring directly to customer.

In sales source automation, company can automate their critical sales and sales force management tasks. Few of the examples include account management, contact management, forecasting, and sales administration keeping track of customer preferences as well as performance management. (Effective CRM Consulting 2009)

In customer service and support, many companies automate some service requests, complaints, product returns and information requests. Key infrastructure requirements of CSS include volume processing capability and reliability, multiple channels support such as web, phone/fax, face-to-face, etc.

In case of the Marketing Automation, information regarding business environment, industry trends macro-environment variables is stored. And then business strategy is defined. Predictive business model is defined.

Analytical CRM:

Analytical CRM includes the process of understanding the behaviors of customers, analyzing this data for marketing effectiveness and planning strategies of cross-selling, up-selling, etc.

The process of analytical CRM starts with analyzing the customer profiles by targeting various categories of customers and evaluating their responses. These responses can be tracked using customer complaints or through transactional data or by direct customer contacts through satisfaction survey. This data of attitudinal and behavioral responses of customers is input for the next process which is nothing but customer behavior modeling. This includes building of predictive models according to the analysis data for various set of customers. The customer behavioral modeling helps to understand the homogenous customer segments. Also the methods like association discovery which is nothing but understanding the associations between the customer needs.

Here only Operational CRM and Analytical CRM are discussed as they are different from the other approaches. The other approaches of CRM namely, Sales CRM, Campaign management, Consumer relationship CRM explanations are not furnished here as they are presented in very much details in the subsequent section, modules of CRM.

4) Modules of CRM:

The key functionality of a CRM solution can be studied under 4 basic modules. They are Marketing, Service, Sales and Call centre. All these modules are Collaborative, Analytical and Operational.

4.1 Marketing Module

The marketing module ofCRMcomprises of functionalities regarding short term execution of marketing related activities and long term planning within the company.
It also helps in activities like planning, Campaign Management and lead management. Marketing module enables different communication channels to run marketing campaigns by the company, which targets potential buyers in using a product or a group of products as a message. One positive way to increase marketing effectiveness is to get better the way leads are captured and acted on. The old method is when an investigation is presented to the organization’s web site; an email is generated and delivered to the department of marketing. Novel way is, a new prospect record is automatically formed in the master database which presents the lead source and campaign, assigns it to a sales representative, and emails the prospect with information or instructions scores the lead. Leads can be allocated upon product curiosity, region, or any additional defined criteria. Automated processing is defined by quicker routing and the facility to scrutinize the lead progress on a real time basis as leads are qualified and converted. The whole lot is processed and followed up in the CRM database, but more importantly such types of workflow improvements effects in greater conversion rates. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

CRM marketing tools afford the infrastructure to prop up a huge variety of lead generation strategies which may be by email marketing, through advertising, direct mail, or trade shows. CRM also facilitates the marketer with metrics which validate financial plans and establishes the worth of marketing to management and sales.

Target Marketing:

Attaining the correct message at the correct time from the right people is vital. Wish to aim only the decision makers those with a practical role of engineering for technical illustration at trade fare? In order to win over, organizations need to elevate consciousness among their most accessible objectives, at the appropriate time with less cost and endeavor. CRM enables an institute to manipulate the valuable knowledge captured through accessible customer relations. As CRM is in place as infrastructure, setting up and maintaining an effective route for getting customer support CRM and sales customers to enter required knowledge into the database is simple. Have a glance at marketing, the sales and support business processes and workflows, and then categorize communication and marketing opportunities. Mixed with a focus on marketing targets and tactics, now have a map to yield the value in CRM by target marketing. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

Campaign Management and Effectiveness Tracking:

The CRM solutions have incorporated marketing tools to support complete campaign management to conduct the webinars, the marketing campaigns, seminars, trainings, events etc. Choose targets, give invitations, obtain registrations through the web, deliver automated replies and reminders, create attendee lists, and carry out satisfaction surveys. Each detail, offline and online, may be watched, measured, and administered as part of the operation. Every movement that has been made with each of the individual analysis and clientele is captured.

Outcome is radically improved marketing administration effectiveness and efficiency, along with a current, shared, and a complete picture of every touch which is made with each client and viewpoint. Icing on the cake is that marketers can obtain benefit of the data obtained to observe real-time campaign metrics, and gauge the efficacy of individual campaigns by kind, time period or medium.

Email Marketing and Communications:

Email marketing plan is the core of marketing success today. Email marketing is timely, cheap, and when done exactly, effectual. Along with CRM, the sales and customer support staff capture and update email addresses in the main CRM repository during their usual tasks. It’s vital to confine and keep up an updated email database of clientele and scenarios.

Modules of CRM have complete email marketing facilities built in. A lot of of them do have the capability to send batch emails and trace the reads. However there is a big market of well-known on demand email marketing attributes which “plug in” to CRM functionality and offer considerably better features to make generating professional email interactions better and perk up the deliverability. In addition, email programs also help to tackle the intricacies of government regulations, tracing, and delivering. If used jointly with CRM, it will have a totally fledged email marketing solution which is professional, acquiescent and effectual. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

Marketing Administration:

CRM can supervise marketing administration activities, which in numerous cases are time intense, not possible, and pricey to administer devoid of automation.

Newsletter List Management:

Saving and continuing supporting the lists of subscribers for alerts and newsletters may be a full time activity, but the task may be automated by combining a web page to the CRM repository where lists are followed up. The integration allows the subscriber to check current preferences, modify and append to their subscriptions, the login, and authenticates requests and one can send the customer an email to corroborate and thank them. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

Literature Fulfillment:

CRM modules can track supplies and rearrange points and direct orders for dispensation. Moreover, the user wants the ability to follow up fulfillment requests and check their order records. In few cases, literature fulfillment requests are required to come from associates, prospects, or clients via web site, all of which can be contained.

Event Management:

Events managing require lots of dexterity. A site must be booked, salespersons contracted, presenters scheduled, fund-raisers signed, broadcasts sent, registrations noted, fee processed, and of course the affair must be held. By making the most of CRM for event management, marketing department can with no trouble and efficiently carry out far more events, whilst building a record of sources concerned that may be required in the prospect.

Customer Surveys:

CRM systems can carry survey administration and consecutively can get better end results for both the corporation and the consumer. Survey invitations may be sent by email from the CRM system, provoking the member to click on a link which guides them to a web survey on organization site. The email address or an approved identifier rooted in the link can combine the study to the member’s details in the CRM record, where it can get details and also reported about. The CRM workflow may also send announcements as soon as a survey is received. (Kevin M. Turner, 2007)

4.2 Service Module

The service module of CRM focuses on how effectively the system is managing customer service which is either planned or unplanned. It helps in activities like Service Contract Management, Service Order Management, and Planned Services management, Installed Base (Equipment) Management, Warranty Management, Service Level Agreement Management, Scheduling, Resource Planning and Knowledge Management.

Service contract management:

  • Maintain a variety of service contracts, including labor contracts, standard parts and usage-based contracts.
  • Administer service contracts, manage service-level agreements, automatically verify entitlement, and alert agents when a customer’s contract is about to expire.

Claim and warranty management:

  • Synchronize with third-party logistic providers to avoid unnecessary goodwill allowances and ensure timely customer credits.
  • Handle the entire warranty and claims process, from RMA (return merchandise authorization) to receipt and inspection.

Maintenance and Installation:

  • Minimize downtime with planned protection service.
  • Predict impact of new product installation for accurate and fast service.
  • Track customers’ installed base of products and their pattern with graphical hierarchical demonstration.

Customer support and service:

  • Access data on the service histories, the service entitlements and contracts, the installed base, service levels, and the warranties by an easy-to-use communication center screen

(SAP Customer Relationship Management on Environment 2006)

4.3 Sales Module

This Module ofCRM Solutionsfocuses mainly on the sales team of the company to execute the pre-sales process and manage, making it more organized. The sales teams in most companies are responsible for capturing customer interaction, capturing any leads or opportunities, the CRM helps them to process this data and monitor it in the future. This helps in organizing all relevant data captured and received for a deal to be put into one place, it could hold data as expected budget, prospective customers, total spending, key players, important dates, products interested in and expected closing dates of a deal.

Each of these can be stand only applications depending on organizational need. It is important that the right software is selected at the right time and more importantly implemented correctly for any CRM to be effective. Important key sales procedures includes

Sales forecasting and planning:

  • Anticipated sales volume over time and provide a total picture of predictable revenue. Augments the precision of sales forecasts and demand plans.
  • Increase performance with coordinated planning and implementation of sales actions across all channels.

Territory management:

  • Gets better resource utilization with apparent visibility into accessibility and assignments.
  • Consign the right sources at the correct time in the exact locations to optimize team performance.
  • Maximize distribution of sales sources and account reporting across clearly defined areas.

Accounts and contacts management:

  • Present a single, inclusive view of all data required to supervise sales accounts.
  • Capture, monitor and track all vital information about prospects, customers, and partners.
  • Access key contacts, detailed customer profiles, critical relationships, critical relationships, and the position of all recent communications from any place and at any time.

Activity management:

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