TAMPA, Fla., Jan. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Companies interested in maximizing
profitability and meeting customer demands for higher levels of service are
realizing the importance of a well-defined customer relationship management
According to Shannon Yost, Director of Customer Solutions at Tribridge,
provider of business consulting services (www.tribridge.com), the investment
companies make in acquiring a good customer must result in a long-term
relationship if it is to be a profitable investment. The proper CRM program
can help accomplish that.
"Believing they are in survival mode, many companies are focusing their
energies on gaining and maintaining a satisfied, loyal customer base," says
Yost. "By developing a dynamic CRM strategy, they will be much better
positioned to understand, anticipate and meet customer needs."
Once considered a solution primarily for Fortune 1000 companies, CRM may
be even more important for the middle market. Yost estimates that
approximately 10 percent of middle market companies have developed a CRM
strategy, but concerns about the cost of developing a strategy have deterred
many others. As a result, these companies continue to focus on tactics rather
than on complete strategies, achieving minimal results.
"Mid market companies, possibly more than any other segment, need to
invest in a comprehensive strategy," she says. "Implementing tactic after
tactic on a piecemeal basis results in an expensive process, and falls short
of reaching the goal of gaining the complete view of the customer and their
interactions with a company."
In implementing a CRM strategy, Yost suggests businesses follow a clear
process that includes:
* Customer assessment: Evaluate the current customer experience, from both
customer and employee perspectives, including channel partners to ensure
all touch points with the customer are considered. Set clear customer
relationship goals to determine where the customer experience deviates
* Process and procedure improvement: Identify and improve mission-critical
business processes based on the results of the customer assessment.
* Selection and implementation of CRM technology: Define technology needs
that support improved processes and identify tools that meet those
* Alignment of customer touch points with CRM goals: Ensure people are
equipped with the training and attitude to provide the desired customer
In terms of evaluating the CRM program, Yost cautions against establishing
the wrong criteria. "Although many expect CRM to drive revenue, it may often
yield a more qualitative, subjective result," she says. Factors to be
considered include retention of top-tier customers, acquisition of new top-
tier customers and measurements of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Although businesses often concentrate on the technology aspects of CRM, it
is a much broader strategy that focuses on all areas in which the company
interacts and maintains relationships with its customers. The bottom line is
that CRM empowers staff with knowledge, allowing them to provide better
service, quicker response and improved customer satisfaction. Hitting all the
touch points of the customer relationship, it allows sales and marketing staff
to analyze data and target more effectively, as well as giving service
employees the information they need to provide better service.
"This is where the technology proves most effective," Yost says. "Through
the ability to 'slice and dice' information, it provides a quicker, more
sophisticated way to deliver CRM and use the resulting information for better
Tribridge (www.tribridge.com) provides business consulting services,
ranging from assessment through implementation. Services are focused in the
areas of customer solutions, operations, technology and healthcare. Based in
Tampa, Fla., Tribridge also has offices in Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and