New CRM research from the Canadian Marketing Association (CMA) has been published to help Canadian companies understand what is happening in their own industry sectors, examining how CRM that is already underway is reshaping the experiences and expectations of Canadian customers.
The study, CRM Benchmarks: Canada 2002 Edition - A Roadmap for Improving Customer Relationships, examines customer relationship management (CRM) practices that companies can apply to their own business operations to measure both progress and success in their relationship marketing efforts.
The study focuses on nine key sectors including automotive, financial services, packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, retail, technology, telecommunications, travel and tourism and utilities.
"At the heart of customer relationship management is the need to create consistent and engaging customer experiences that will spell future profitability," commented Bryan Pearson, president of Air Miles Canada, which is managed by The Loyalty Group.
The study revealed that, while most Canadian companies are now practicing some form of customer relationship management and are actively developing their ability to strengthen ties with customers, only one third have made the link between CRM and how it can improve operational efficiencies, strengthening the bottom line.
Companies that take an enterprise-wide approach to CRM and have the active support of senior management are most likely to succeed in delivering their CRM strategy, according to the CMA study.
Those same companies are also more likely to have identified and profiled customer segments, integrated customer data across service channels, have good technology support, have an employee strategy in place to align the workforce with CRM systems, and have the ability to measure the success of CRM initiatives in terms of return on investment.
The key findings of the study included:
- Most Canadian companies (86%) are now practicing CRM in some form and senior management is engaged in most CRM programmes.
- Only 38% of Canadian businesses have made major changes to their organisations' infrastructure to make them more customer centric.
- Over 60% of Canadian companies have a CRM implementation strategy in place but only 50% of those have a specific timetable for achieving their CRM objectives.
- Marketing and technology infrastructures are the highest priority areas for implementation, with the biggest challenges being securing sufficient funding, establishing ownership, and achieving organisation-wide employee alignment.
- The retail and financial services sectors tend to be at the forefront of CRM due to the rise of multichannel media, and the need to standardise customer experience across service channels.
- The technology sector is also among the most actively engaged because CRM is already embedded into the dominant business model, and these companies are most familiar with information management tools.
- CRM is relatively new to the packaged goods and pharmaceutical sectors, which tend to focus more narrowly on sales due to the nature of their business models, and a lack of direct exposure to end-user customers.
- The utility sector is a relative newcomer to CRM, with a current focus on marketing initiatives and investing in the front-end components of CRM (such as customer information and segmentation).
About the study
The study is the result of a partnership between the CMA and CRM service providers Carlson Marketing Group and The Loyalty Group. The study was conducted by Decima Research in partnership with Deloitte Consulting, and included interviews with the most senior person responsible for CRM in 160 of Canada's largest companies.
John Gustavson, president of the CMA, explained, "We felt that we needed to undertake research that would help Canadian companies understand what is happening in their own marketplace, whether in their particular sector or in others."