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Customer relationship management

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a compilation of processes that a company uses to collate and organize its link with the current and prospective customers. CRM packages (software) aim to assist in this task; these packages can store information about the customers and the interactions with these customers Typically the goals of CRM is to improve the service quality offered to the customer by using the customer specific information available, this can include offering special schemes and targeting customer.

The reason for the success of this business software is that the customers when they interact with the company perceive it to be a single entity but many a times the information about the customer is not shred within the different departments of the company, CRM gives the company the same view that a customer expects the company to have.

A standard CRM package has various departments which share the same database and hence are able to understand the complete profile of the customer. The include Front Office operations (that has direct dealing with the customer through walk-ins, telephonic calls etc.) and back office operations (like billing, maintenance, finance etc.).

CRM tools give a wide range of reports and analysis that can be used

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by a company to design Marketing campaigns, design business strategies, evaluate the performance of Marketing activities like market share, profitability, revenues etc). A good CRM Software provides information not only to the Marketing team but also enables the sales and the service teams; it also enables better reporting by improving the analytics of the programs. Some Key information provided by CRM software along with the business benefits are provided below:

·         Managing marketing resources: The information on market segments, campaigns , trade promotion, leads and marketing analytics on these resources is available easily, hence the planning can be done in more streamlined manner

·         Sales Planning and forecasting can be planned better since information and analysis on accounts, geographies ( territories), products etc is available in a timely manner

·         Improved Service: Services can be managed more effectively since information on warranty, complaints, returns etc is available. Functionality that supports call center, e-service and filed service also adds to the service quality.

·         Partner Management: Channel management can be improved upon by streamlining processes related to communications, forecasting, partner order fulfillment, collaborative selling, and campaign management.

·         Offer management: One stop shop for all customer information helps improve customer relation, offer customer specific schemes. It also provides the ability to cross sell products, up sell and introduce retention schemes for customers.

New age CRM packages also enable Web channels, hence a company can utilize the power of internet for e-commerce, e-marketing and e-service.

Some popular CRM vendors are SAP, Oracle (Seibel), Salesforce.com. SAP CRM has six modules: Marketing resource and Brand Management, Campaign Management, Segmentation and list management, Real-time offer management, Loyalty Management and E-marketing.

Generally, CRM software vendors expect the end user to understand the complete process of Customer relationship management, but that is not always simple to achieve. One of the biggest reason for the failure of a CRM implementation is lack of employees understanding the process of the system, this leads to limited use of the system. One key expectation for any CRM implementation is the training efforts of the employees.

Different kind of CRM systems need different hardware and software but the world is now moving towards SAaS model (Software as a service), for example salesforce.com. When the older versions of CRM sat on a server inside the company the new age CRMs are available through internet thus allowing the company to save on the cost of hardware procurement and maintenance.

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