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Customer Information Databases – Pro or Con?
Posted at 01:16 PM on 06 Jul 2009 under Marketing

A Customer Information Database (aka a Customer Relationship Management system, or CRM), has to be the bane of every Marketer’s life. But there is one thing worse – it’s NOT having one!

But does everyone understand the importance of a customer database and do we actually care whether our customers prefer watching rugby over wrestling, when their birthday is or what all their contact details are? I mean, every sales person has their customers’ mobile number programmed into his or her blackberry and they know exactly how to get to their customers’ offices. So what’s the big deal I hear you ask?

As Marketers, you are constantly promoting a campaign, organizing an event or sending out a mail shot to name but a few tasks in your hectic day, and then the all too familiar sound of so-and-so has resigned or been promoted comes back to haunt you.

What should it mean to a Marketer?
First, let’s clear up the term CRM. It has many definitions, and I am not merely referring to the IT systems on the market. Understanding who your customers are and keeping a record of customer information pertaining to your Marketing intentions is why you should have a CRM system. What product you decide to use is irrelevant now. First, know your customer, then implement a system that works for you and most importantly, maintain the information.

Weighing up the costs
Too many companies have a CRM system in place, but which hasn’t been updated or maintained in years! And this is why decision-makers struggle to see the need for any investment in a proper CRM system. The system isn’t the problem. Yes, it costs money to purchase, set up and install, but the process relating to maintaining and updating the system is of vital importance. The PROCESS is even more important than the system you install. The value of the CRM system should be determined by the process of upkeep rather than as a once-off project.

Customising your CRM
So if it means keeping a record of who attended what function last year or what products they bought, your database must be customized and applicable to your business. Your system should be flexible and adaptable in order to fulfill your objectives in terms of what you will use it for. You also need to allocate resources to maintain the information, whether it is the sales staff who interacts with customers on a daily basis or a single resource who only looks after the database.

Finally, the recording and filing of customer information is critical as far as succession planning in a company is concerned and it’s in the best interests of the company to protect it at all costs!

 

Comments

Three things:
1)  The collapse of a CRM system is normally due to bad senior management that does not keep a finger on the data.
2)  Use it or lose it!
3)  Search by category with lots of flexibility is important to implement from the start.

By Rudolf the Red on 2009-07-06
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