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CRM has done a solid job of giving line-of-business managers better technology for process improvements and incrementally better data. However, the overall ROI is limited due to a lack of actionable insight that is only achieved through the better use of information. Businesses embark on CRM projects for a variety of reasons, but more than 85% expect to increase revenue by better understanding their customers. Unfortunately, the insight to understand customers better is sometimes buried deep in a database or siloed among different departments. Yet effective implementations of CRM are critical to the success of every company. As seen in Exhibit 1, many companies are stuck in either Stage 2 or 3. The missing critical link for achieving Stage 4 and being truly customer-centric lies in leveraging the data and analytics for actionable insight. Analytics help businesses understand the appropriate actions by sales, customer service and marketing to support the creation of relationships that yield maximum customer value. Customer-centric CRM ensures that businesses sell, market and care for customers based on their specific needs and preferences.

It enables businesses to optimize each customer touchpoint by linking analytics to their CRM process initiatives. By gaining insight into both individual customers and target market segments, these companies can boost sales and optimize top-line business performance.

In 2004, Yankee Group interviewed 500 marketing and sales executives on their use of technologies and related key performance indicator benefits (see Exhibit 2). Analytics adds the intelligence for improved decisionmaking. The best approach to achieving insight from the abundance of customer information is to understand the critical question of “What is the right amount of data and how should it be analyzed to add value to the customercentric initiative?” Data collection initiatives demand planning because anything that is not measured cannot be managed. Primary issues to consider are: • What is the reason for the data? Create expectations for measurements. • What data elements need to be collected (e.g., behavioral, transactional, demographical)? • What metrics need to be measured for continuous improvement? What are the specific details of how the collected data points will be used? Companies should continue to focus on CRM as a key driver for improved business performance. It is critical to shift the focus from primarily automation and efficiency toward gaining insight from the sales, marketing and service systems. Gaining insight from these systems is necessary to achieve the next level of value from these investments. Customer-centric companies maximize value by implementing insight directly into the business process to stimulate interest, close business, satisfy a need or demonstrate commitment to the relationship. Many companies today are trying to assemble a coherent picture of the customer from scattered information located throughout the entire enterprise. It would be analogous to a 100,000-piece puzzle with half the pieces missing—not a very effective strategy to improve the customer experience. During the last few years, there has been explosive growth in data volumes from multiple sources: • Sales departments have scattered information in SFA, spreadsheets, contact managers, outlook, proposals, quotes and e-mails • Complexity in marketing departments has grown from a few media buys to hundreds of media buys, targeted direct mail and one-to-one multichannel marketing • Contact centers, customer service and support contains incident information and inquiries, purchase data, financial data, credit data, third-party sources and web statistics Many businesses can still achieve actionable insight and customer success by making strategic decisions based on quality, not quantity. The key is to build on sales, marketing and service process efficiencies created with CRM by injecting actionable insight. By adding analytics, companies can create better relationships and increase success.

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