The five key CRM initiatives for the next three years

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on July 20, 2001

The five key CRM initiatives for the next three years

There are five key initiatives that CRM-focused market leaders in the retail industry will take over the next three years, says technology research and advisory firm, Gartner. They include the following:·  Promote merchandising, marketing, servicing and selling across channels.·  Provide a consistent face to the consumer across all points of contact. ·  Capture and make the best use of knowledge across channels at a granular level.·  Identify, target and differentiate valuable consumers. ·  Recognize the lifetime value and profitability of consumers.

Gartner surveyed 56 retailers in December 2000 and asked them their business priorities for 2001. More than half of the respondents rated CRM as their highest business priority. Most of the others saw it as a moderate business priority, with only one in twenty rating it as a low priority. However, while most retailers clearly consider CRM to be an important business strategy, only one in three of the respondents acknowledge deploying a CRM initiative.

Still immature CRM initiatives receive a lot of attention because they offer to fill two of retailers' most critical needs - understanding customer buying behaviour and providing better customer information throughout the organization. But, according to Carol Ferrara-Zarb, research director for Gartner's CRM research group, CRM technology is still very immature. In the short term, this immaturity will hinder retailer's efforts to reap benefits. Support for CRM has to be enterprise-wide, from the executive level right down to customer facing level. It also needs cross-channel and cross functional support.

Is technology the answer? One of the challenges of CRM is that ownership of the customer moves up the hierarchy, to the enterprise level (so that information can be shared by all), but contact with the customer remains at the level of individual channels and departments. Automating these contacts is one of the steps towards achieving CRM. However, Gartner analysts say that merely implementing technologies is not the actual key to success in CRM.

"Retailers that fall into the trap of thinking they can accomplish CRM based solely on technology will fail," Ferrara-Zarb said. "Retailers that succeed in CRM will be those that evaluate their processes in light of customer expectations, honestly assessing their strengths and weaknesses, then rebuilding them based on what their customers want."

Gartner analysts will provide additional insight into CRM during its CRM Summit Fall 2001 Customer Loyalty - The Key to Profitable Growth, which covers both the business and IT imperatives necessary to enable more profitable customer relationships, as well as the technology, strategies and processes involved. It will be held September 10-12 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, Florida.

More details on this Summit are available at, and by calling +1 800 778 1997 or +1 203 316 6757

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