It is perhaps ironic that many CRM vendors are failing to conduct their own one-to-one communications effectively, according to The Customer Respect Group's Q2 2006 Online Customer Respect Study of the leading Customer Relationship Management vendors.
Overall, CRM vendors faired below average compared to other industries with an industry rating of 5.6 out of 10 in the survey (compared to 5.7 for all industries). Particularly poor was the industry's communications with its customers, with an overall score of 4.1.
Vendors were grouped into those that install software on customers' premises ("on-premises") and those that supply an ASP or remote-based solution ("on-demand"). On-premises vendors did better in terms of web site usability but struggled with trust issues. The on-demand vendors had an opposite set of results: they were strong on trust-related issues but web site usability was a concern.
Communications are critical in any self-serve environment, such as a web site. Yet this was the lowest-scoring area for the industry (at 4.2), and one of the lowest results of any industry. Only one company scored strongly in this category (SalesForce.com).
Eighty-three percent of online customers rated the ability to initiate a one-on-one dialogue with the web site as important, yet 9 out of the 14 companies examined received a rating of "poor" for their communications. For example:
- 27% of email enquiries were ignored by CRM vendors;
- No CRM company consistently responded with helpful responses to online questions in a timely manner (within one day);
- Only 31% of email enquiries were acknowledged with an auto response - ironically a feature that is provided in most CRM systems;
- Only half of the enquiries that did receive a response were answered within one day.
Overall index ranking
The CRM vendors (in order of Customer Respect Index rating - best first) were:
- RightNow Technologies
- Maximizer Software
- FrontRange Solutions