British companies risk losing business through their sloppy approach to tracking leads and winning new clients, according to a new BT study on customer information.
Some 25% of the marketing and business development managers surveyed by BT admitted to wrongly recording crucial information, which means they cannot rely on it when they need it. The survey also found that 40% of business managers do not share contact information with their colleagues.
British managers revealed that they are often suspicious of sharing information, with 29% keeping critical information on personal technology devices (such as mobile telephones and handheld computers) or on personal paper-based systems (12%), when others could also make use of it. In half the companies surveyed this meant that when someone left the firm they took all of their useful business contacts with them.
"Business managers have to stop treating their colleagues with suspicion, end the office 'blame culture', and start focusing on their real competitors - other companies," warned Paul White, head of CRM for BT Major Business. "Sharing the right information at the right time is crucial to getting the best results but it seems that too few business are encouraging their staff to do so."
Despite widespread recognition that electronic systems such as business databases and CRM applications are the most reliable way of tracking business contacts (a statement with which 58% of respondents agreed), only 50% have efficient systems for capturing that information. More than half (53%) said they struggle to find the correct details of their business contacts, and almost two-thirds (62%) said they cannot trace the relationship history of a contact. Inevitably this impacts the bottom line, with missed opportunities and potential revenue being lost.
"Customer relationship management (CRM) is about making it easy to get the information you need. Although IT systems that can be accessed across your organisation are a good start, it's important that they are not expensive, unwieldy, or inflexible," explained White.
BT introduced Siebel's CRM OnDemand solution to its UK business clients in December 2003, allowing businesses to sign up for any number of licenses they need at a fixed price per user, per month. The hosted service is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and divisions of larger businesses so that they can organise, manage and streamline their sales, marketing and customer service activity.
BT Retail is itself a customer of Siebel Systems, with its own CRM implementation involving more than 22,500 users, and creating a 'single view' of more than 21 million consumer and business customers.