CRM at the Speed of Light: Capturing and Keeping Customers in Internet Real Time

CRM at the Speed of Light: Capturing and Keeping Customers in Internet Real Time

by Paul Greenberg

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The economy is recovering and the business map is changing dramatically. No longer are your customers so willing to remain your customers unless you provide them with actual value and get to know them personally, or at least know what they want. There are competitive businesses out there that can reach your customers via the Internet, e-mail, phone, fax, or letter.


The economy is recovering and the business map is changing dramatically. No longer are your customers so willing to remain your customers unless you provide them with actual value and get to know them personally, or at least know what they want. There are competitive businesses out there that can reach your customers via the Internet, e-mail, phone, fax, or letter. And you can reach your customers in the same ways. But that costs a lot of money to do and, even if you are beginning to see a little light in the tunnel with your revenue stream, you are probably still cautious about spending. How can you utilize those precious dollars or yuan or euros to improve the singular relationship you have with a customer you might not know personally? Which of those communications media are more effective for which customers? What should you be saying to them, finding out from them, and doing for them to provide them with the value that keeps them coming back -- or intrigues them so that they join you for the first time?

International thought leader and CRM guru Paul Greenberg explains how every business -- no matter what the industry -- can create a true customer-focused environment. He describes how CRM strategy has evolved in recent years -- from being data-driven to being process-driven. Instead of just creating a 360-degree view of customer data, businesses should strive to answer questions like: What kind of business workflow do we need to make sure that customer problems are resolved? With what regulations do we have to comply? What do we do to sell a new product to a customer and how do we handle the order? It is a complex interlinked supply, support, and demand chain that involves not just the products and services offered by the company, but also the suppliers, vendors, partners, and employees. CRM has grown up and customer strategies are no longer just a matter of a business edge, but of both success and survival. The most important question that Greenberg answers is: How do you get the insights into your customers that provide you with the value to delight them and make them want to remain committed to you?

Greenberg emphasizes that transforming business culture is perhaps the most vital step in ensuring that a CRM initiative succeeds, and he outlines the necessary steps in the change management process. He describes the major players in each sector of the CRM world along with their current technology offerings. You'll also discover tips for evaluating Web architecture and enterprise applications as well as get valuable advice on setting up a detailed cost-effective service level agreement. While filled with revealing case studies, technology recommendations, and insights into growing trends, this new edition is marked by Greenberg's well-known bluntness and humor, making what can be a really dry subject actually quite interesting. This updated edition of the thought-provoking best-seller will help make your vision of CRM work for you.

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McGraw-Hill Osborne
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Read an Excerpt

1. CRM: A Definition and History

If you remember, Henry F. Potter (as played by Lionel Barrymore) is the town's miserly, nasty, always-dressed-in-black banker. His life's mission was to make money for his bank and to squeeze that money from the townspeople who he saw as "rabble:" As a result of his success, he was "the richest man in town:' George Bailey, as the head of Bailey Building and Loan, on the other hand, saw that because the townspeople were his customers, his responsibility was to serve them with the best possible personal customer service. Mr. Potter followed the strict rules of the bank. If the rabble wanted to borrow money, they did it on the bank's terms or not at all. George Bailey lent the hardworking townspeople the money at reasonable, flexible rates during what seemed to be the depression years because that's the service they needed. He was a participant in their lives, even though, in the strictest sense, they were his customers. But they were also his neighbors. He gave personalized service to each of the townspeople and made it a point to actually know them. If he were not there, the townspeople would be forced to deal with the bank-centric Mr. Potter, who engendered a cynical customer versus company business policy due to the heartlessness of the company. It was no coincidence that when George Bailey was removed from the equation in the more famous sequences of the movie, the town's name went from Bedford Falls to Pottersville and became a heartless, cold, adversarial place. The final scene of the movie shows the townspeople coming to George Bailey's rescue by providing him with money to restore missing dollars that Mr. Potter falsely accused him ofstealing, with each of the donors citing a time where George Bailey had rescued them from some difficulty. Heartwarming, indeed.

Putting it simply, who would you want to bank with-George Bailey or Henry F. Potter?

Let's fast-forward to the twenty-first century. There is a commercial on television for that shows a couple sitting at a table with a banker. The banker says something to the effect of "Are you interested?" The couple says, "Can't you lower the rates a little?" The banker says, somewhat insistently, "This is a good package:" The couple, unexpectedly, laughs and says, "Sorry to have taken up your time. Next!" Another banker comes in and sits down as a voiceover explains how bankers will bid for the privilege of lending you money at The customer controls the interaction between the borrower and the lender, something entirely new to traditional commercial lending hierarchies. Customer-focused, customer-controlled interactivity via the Web.

But Customer Relationship Management (CRM) seems to be a relative newcomer that appeared on business radar no more than perhaps two years ago, as enterprise resource planning (ERP) began its 1998 spin out of control and extended ERP (XRP) replaced it briefly as an acronym. This took place just prior to the recognized emergence of CRM and other front-office and middleware applications in early 1999. CRM then begat electronic Customer Relationship Management (eCRM), which popped out as something of importance from the Web-enabled egg of its CRM mother in late 1999. How is all of this any different from the "George Bailey principle" of customer loyalty and retention? Or is it any different?

What Is a Customer?

While retaining customer loyalty has been a sales principle since the beginning of time (even Adam needed to retain Eve's loyalty despite immense pressure from his competitor, the Snake), CRM is actually a tremendous step forward in creating a system that can provide a means for retaining individual loyalty in a world of nearly 6 billion souls. In order to understand CRM, we have to look at the changing nature of the customer because customers aren't what they used to be.

While "the customer is king" has been a mantra since the 1940s, its content has changed fundamentally over the past decade. What is interesting to begin with is what is defined as a customer.

When I worked with IBM back in the early 1990s, I remember being a bit puzzled by a designation their departments used with each other. When department 1 did work for department 2, they charged department 2 fees and expenses. Department 1 staff members specifically referred to this process as charging internal "customers:' At the time, I was surprised, thinking, how could customers be employees of the same company even if they work for different departments? Aren't they fellow employees, friends, and such? Nope. They were (and are) customers-even if they are fellow employees and friends. It seems to be nitpicking and perhaps just for bookkeeping, but they are customers. Why? Because you are providing a service to them for a fee of some sort. Additionally, the department has the right to get bids on the services from both internal departments and outside consulting firms. You could be competing within and without!

This led me to investigate what exactly the concept of "the customer" was becoming. At that time, I distinguished between what is now called the business-to-consumer (B2C) "customer" and the business-to-business (B2B) "client:' Department stores had customers. IBM had clients. Or so I thought.

After a substantial number of discussions with my colleagues and friends who were also in the business world, I came to the conclusion that the division between traditional customers (people who were sold your products outside the realm of the store) and internal customers (a department or division or team or employee) was becoming murky. In fact, all of them were customers that were sold to. IBM even had the bookkeeping to deal with it. It may have been going on for years. I didn't know. I just knew that my definition of customer had changed.

How Do We Define CRM? Let Me Count the Ways

A decade later, I began to write this book with the idea that it would be strictly about eCRM, which in my naive way, I thought was very different than CRM. It wasn't and isn't. I plugged into the debates that are constantly being fought over what exactly CRM is. There is a standard industry rote response that says what it isn't: it isn't a technology. As you will see, that's true, but not strictly. I also heard that it was a "customer-facing" system. That it is a strategy and/or a set of business processes. A methodology. It is all of the above or whichever you choose. The Knowledge Capital Group defines CRM as a subset of something they call enterprise relationship management (ERM), which involves customers, suppliers, partners, and employees. They've developed a number of (useful) new terms such as "sphere of expertise" and "channels of execution" to help define it.

The buzz is very loud in this debate. It occurred to me that what better way to try to define CRM than to get some of the significant names in the industry to tell me. So that's what you are going to see in this chapter. These are the people in the CRM industry who make it the blockbuster industry it is.

The Heavyweights Define CRM

These folks (listed below in alphabetical order by their last names) were chosen because of their influence in the CRM world and because they represent a variety of CRM opinions that matter in the information technology world. There is the CEO of a company that owns a CRM product that handles large enterprise activity. There is the CMO of a company that specializes in CRM for the midmarket. There is the CEO of a company that has a portal-based CRM product. There is the president of a company that specializes in partner relationship management (PRM) consulting and one that has a vertical CRM product for federal government contractors. And there is the president of a company who specializes in CRM management consulting. They characterize a wide variety of Muhammad Alis. The definitions of CRM that follow each biography of the individual are written in their own words. Check them out; they're good.

Craig Conway, President and CEO, PeopleSoft, Ins.

Craig Conway joined PeopleSoft in 1999 as president and chief operating officer, and was promoted to chief executive officer in September 1999. Ire oversees all PeopleSoft business operations, including sales, marketing, professional service, customer support, development, finance, and administration.

Mr. Conway was president and chief executive for OneTouch Systems, a leader in the field of interactive broadcast networks. Previously, he served as president and chief executive for TGV Software, Inc., an early developer of IP network protocols and applications for corporate intranets and the Internet. Mr. Conway also spent eight years at Oracle Corporation as executive vice president in a variety of roles, including marketing, sales, and operations...

Meet the Author

Paul Greenberg is executive vice president of Live Wire, an ecommerce consulting services firm. He has years of experience with both CRM and Enterprise Relationship Planning (ERP). He has built SAP and PeopleSoft practices and, in his current position, has established close partnerships with front-office leaders such as PeopleSoft/Vantive and SalesLogix. He is the author of a book on PeopleSoft and has another book, The Schadchen Principle in the works. Paul lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and two cats.

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