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The Obvious and Subtle Benefits of CRM
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By Mark Klein


Probably the biggest factor influencing CRM is the Internet. First, the Internet has enabled a different implementation methodology. Browser-based applications sold as services are particularly attractive to small businesses because big upfront expenses are avoided. Salesforce.com is the market leader in this space.

Internet-delivered Web services allow CRM programs to easily incorporate otherwise hard-to-get information. For example, zip codes and street addresses--an absolutely necessary nuisance--can be integrated directly from a US Postal Service server. So can analytics from a third party provider.

The most important factor, though, is that the Internet lets companies use their CRM system to reach their customers via email. This capability is so ubiquitous and so obvious that we tend to forget how crucial customer communication is to commerce.

To make your CRM project a success, a company must amass the right information. The key data includes, first of all, the obvious contact information:
• Dollar amounts, quantities and timing of each customer’s purchases.
• What orders are in the pipeline.

This information will help you and your CRM system determine:
• The customer’s lifetime value.
• The likelihood of the customer making a purchase in the near future.
• What new products the customer might buy.
• Where the customer ranks in the total population of customers.

A systematically study of customers and their behavior can be a powerful tool for building your business. In future columns, we’ll help you navigate around potential problems such as connecting to your data sources, finding analytics appropriate to your business and educating personnel on how to use the information they’ll now have at their fingertips.

Mark Klein is the CEO and Manager of Loyalty Builders.
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