Customer Relationship Management: More Important Than Ever; Gaining/Maintaining Customer Loyalty Boosts Profitability

    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
 (CRM) strategy.
     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
       from expectations.
     * 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
       needs.
     * Alignment of customer touch points with CRM goals: Ensure people are
       equipped with the training and attitude to provide the desired customer
       experience.
 
     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
 business decisions."
     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
 Atlanta.
 
 

SOURCE Tribridge

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