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eCRM technology: putting the CRM philosophy into practice
However, information about customers can be of little use without appropriate tools
and methodologies for collecting, storing and retrieving it. Electronic Customer
Relationship Management (eCRM) is a technological extension to the CRM philoso-
phy. It integrates many previously separate functions, such as databases, email, word
processors, accounts programs and network utilities, into a uniform environment. It
allows reliable, accurate data to be passed between different branches of an organisation
instantly.The development of dedicated software that facilitates the collection, storage
and retrieval of customer data has paved the way for the widespread adoption of more
technically advanced eCRM strategies within the business sector, particularly since the
Internet boom of the mid 1990s.
Where is CRM technology currently used?
CRM strategy has been most readily adopted by the financial services and telecom-
munications industries, with consumer goods manufacturers, retailers and high tech firms
following close behind. According to Vince Kellen (2002)
2
, lecturer in e-commerce tech-
nology at DePaul University (IL, US) and CEO of Blue Wolf Consultancy, there are
three main uses for CRM systems: i) To influence or validate decision making; ii) To
guide ongoing activities and tactics; iii) To predict future sales. Kellen's focus is geared
squarely towards the financial sector, but if his list is adapted to fit the cultural heritage
sector more closely, it may look something like the following:
1. To influence or validate decision making
Customer-related strategies can have a profound effect on an organisation's cus-
tomers, and properly established CRM software can provide invaluable feedback on
the success or failure of an adopted strategy. Existing customer relationship data can
provide some indication of the direction in which the organisation should be head-
ing in order to maintain existing customers and attract new ones.The business strate-
gy will affect how the customer relationship data will be analysed. For example, if an
organisation is primarily concerned with return on investment (ROI), it may reach
different conclusions to those it would if primarily concerned with less tangible ben-
efits such as customer satisfaction or repeat visits.
2. To formulate procedures
CRM can be of key importance in understanding customer activities on a day-to-
day basis, as well as being used in the formulation of long-term strategies.
Information about specific customer relationships can be invaluable to customer-fac-
ing employees. For example, knowledge of the most frequent types of requests can
improve the efficiency of employee/customer interactions and improve customer
relations. Such information can act as an invaluable spur in the development of long-
term strategy and planning.
Customer Relationship
Management
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2
Kellen, `CRM Measurement Frameworks' (http://www.kellen.net/crmmeas.htm)