The Ultimate CRM Handbook



Book Author: John G. Freeland

Book Review by : Vivek Gupta
Faculty Member, ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research)


CRM, sales, marketing operations, The New CRM Imperative, Setting the Strategy, Gaining Customer Insights, Reinventing Customer Contact, Transformational Marketing, CRM at Work

Book Snapshot: The book examines the reasons why customer relationship management (CRM) has not been able to deliver its promises and what steps must organizations take to improve returns on investments made in CRM. It discusses the most contemporary innovations in the CRM field. The book contains 32 chapters and several insightful case studies on many globally recognized companies. The chapters discusses how organizations can use CRM effectively to significantly improve the efficiency of their sales and marketing operations and provide the best customer service by enabling more effective interactions with them.

Managing customer relationships effectively has always been top priority for organizations. Organizations have employed many ways including call centers and toll free numbers to listen to their customers. However, these measures were not sufficient and most of the organizations looked forward for a complete solution that provided them the complete set of customer support services as well as well-defined analysis of customer database. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was a wave of CRM software packages implementation with several organizations opting for it and making huge investments. However, very few organizations are successful and till today the success rate in implementing CRM packages is very less.

The book gives readers the complete set of information on CRM strategies and provides valuable insights for implementing CRM successfully. The editor has designed the book well. Divided into six sections, each part of the book talks about the essential components of CRM. The book is very comprehensive and hence due to time constraints, readers may not like to go through all the chapters. In that case, they can go through the book section-wise by first reading the section that is of their interest. The sections in the book are - 'The New CRM Imperative,' 'Setting the Strategy,' 'Gaining Customer Insights,' 'Reinventing Customer Contact,' 'Transformational Marketing,' and 'CRM at Work.'

The first section examines the changes happening in the way organizations manage customer relationships since the mid 1990s, how CRM is helping organizations to meet the customers' needs and preferences and how CRM will shape up in future.

The second section discusses the importance of strategy and the relevance of strategic issues in an organization. The articles are well written and give a clear idea of framing CRM strategy. The chapter three which talks about the customer strategy examines a set of focus areas where one can target its CRM initiatives. The articles also discuss the areas where the CRM initiatives will work.

The articles also discuss the importance of IT tools through which a huge database of customers can be converted into useful data for marketing as well as various promotions campaigns. The data analysis is one of the important aspects of today's CRM packages that enable companies to provide better-customized solutions to customers. For example, a Citibank credit card holder goes to a three-star hotel and when makes the payment through its credit card, the machine does not accepts payment. The reason is the use of latest security tools that analyzes the data thus providing additional security to customers. The reason why the credit card transaction was not processed because that customer always went to a particular five star hotel, this time due to some reasons went to three star one. This led the Citibank's systems conclude that the card may have been stolen and hence the payment is stopped. Soon, the customer's mobile phone rings up to confirm the validity of the transaction. After getting the confirmation, the transaction is approved. This instance of service increases the customer's loyalty significantly.

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