Keeping customers satisfied
The customer is the immediate jewel of our souls. Him we
flatter, him we feast, compliment, vote for, and will not contradict.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
the noted American poet and philosopher could have seen the state of customer
service that exists in this country today, he probably would have wept. In this
scenario, customer relationship management (CRM), a much-misunderstood and maligned
concept that entails managing relationships with customers, shows promise.
Simply put, CRM tools give an organisation a clear picture of how satisfied
(or not) its customers are. It lets marketing teams craft campaigns that, provided
they are backed by business processes, encourage the customer to buy more or,
if not that, complain less.
Why has CRM got a bad rap? 70 percent of CRM deployments fail and even when
they are putative successes, no technology is a magic wand.
Still, CRM can make a substantial change to the efficiency with which customer
interactions are handled. Operational CRM can help companies clean up their
data, find out whats going wrong and where and how they can fix it. Better
yet, CRM has become cheaper and smarter. Companies can buy off-the-shelf software
or build their own systems using industry-standard components. Going by the
popularity of ASP offerings such as Salesforce.com abroad, an ASP model might
become popular in India in the not-too-distant future. With analytical CRM,
firms can go so far as to start figuring out what new product or service their
customer is likely to want before he knows it.
The ground reality is that India Inc. is still busy rolling out ERP and without
that as a foundation you cant have CRM.
CRM is best suited to organisations that deal directly with end-users. While
an automobile manufacturer could conceivably use CRM tools to manage its dealer
interactions, the impact would not be anywhere even close to what a bank could
get by using the technology to manage its retail banking operations. Telcos
are another group of companies that can benefit enormously and they are avid
users of this software.
Companies that use CRM effectively will be able to avoid the plight of the salesman,
in the Paul Simon song, who sang Everywhere I go, I get slandered, Libeled,
I hear words I never heard in the Bible, And Im one step ahead of the
shoe shine, Two steps away from the county line, Just trying to keep my customers
This time around Soutiman Das Gupta takes a crack at answering the knotty question
of why CRM implementations fail and how they dont have to and examines
the variants of this technology. We chronicle a couple of success stories at
Refco-Sify Securities India and iSeva. To provide a counterpoint, the VP of
FoodWorld tells Deepali Gupta why his company does not have a CRM system in
Prashant L Rao
Head of Editorial Operations