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More often than not we hear the consulting gurus say something like “CRM can help you not only retain existing customers, but can also help you widen your customer base” or “CRM helps you track your opportunities better, and helps you focus on those customers who help you to rake in that much more – not just in terms of volume, but also interms of profitability” or several such things and we end up wondering whether the way we run our business would ever be the same again? On one hand we have the ‘E’ things which seems to be selling like hot cakes, and on the other hand people are talking about this new buzz word CRM - Customer Relationship Management. How similar are they or how different are they?Managing the relationship with customers and making them happy or should we say “delighted” has come in to the limelight in the wake of globalization, where Customer delight is the only key to success or more so the very existence. The focus on customers and giving them exactly what they want has been there in almost all organizations, then why the sudden talk about CRM?To answer that question we need to look at what is the current situation in the Industry today. With a general slowdown of the global economy companies are finding it hard to get going. More so with the advent of technology which has made life easier for your competitors. Gone are the days where you had a technological edge over your archrival. With new and affordable technologies your competitor is just a matter of days behind you in terms of product launch. So what are you left with as a key-differentiating factor? What are you left with as a feature that could make your customer chose you over your competitor? Scary as the situation may seem, it is the ground reality that many companies the world over have come to terms with and have realized that customers need to be looked at more seriously than ever before.The perception a customer has of a company is based on his varied experiences with people from the organization. It’s a proven fact that it costs 10 times as much to bring in a new customer than it is retain one. Further more the choices open to the customers today are so much so that one needs to make the most of every chance that he gets when he comes in contact with a customer. Here information is the key to success. Information about the customer made available to the person coming in contact with the customer can go a long way not only in clinching the deal but also creating a very good relationship with the customer for future business. Organizations over the past had products as their key focus. The way an entire organization works would be built around this focus area. Since this cannot be used as a key-differentiating factor anymore, companies have begun to focus on the customers. This not only brings about a change in focus, but also changes the way the entire organization works. The only entity seen by the company is its customer. This requires a better understanding of the customers and what they expect from your organization. It needs to be understood that not all customers are equally profitable. The key herein lies in identifying the customers who pay you more for the kind of services that you offer and focusing your valuable efforts into taking special care of those customers. This not only helps by improving your bottom line, but also helps you to focus your efforts where it is required the most.The need for accurate and timely information to the sales team is really important. The advantages being that the knowledge gathered by a particular person who has been interacting with the customer, now lies with the organization and not with the person alone. With sales representative’s mobility increasing by the day, it is difficult to expect the same person to come in contact with the customer all the time. Now when a new person from the organization goes to the customer he has to go about re-inventing the wheel in order to establish a rapport with the customer. This by itself is a risky process wherein the chances of either the customer getting bored, trying to explain his needs to a new person each and every time or the sales representative failing to establish a good rapport is high. All this increases the organization’s risk of retaining a new customer. In such cases information of any sort pertaining to the customer is invaluable. Thus the organization ends up presenting one face to the customer no matter with home they come in contact with your organization. This is something the customer greatly appreciates. This is what that will differentiate your organization from the one next door.How has technology changed or helped the CRM revolution? What promises does it hold and how true are they? - in the next part.


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