Project No 4: Customer Relationship Management

By John Moore Print this article Print

Call 2005 the year of the add-on for customer relationship management.

Project No 4

Project Summary
Technology: Software that manages how companies interact with their customers
Goals: Provide metrics and historical trend data to customers and partners; analyze customer data to make marketing programs more efficient
Average planned spending in 2005: $6.6 million

Call 2005 the year of the add-on for customer relationship management.

The category is a top area for enterprises this year, but the focus isn't necessarily on core functions of the call center or the sales force. Instead, companies using software to track their telephone or field sales forces' interactions with customers want to add features and capabilities to the customer information "hubs" they already have.

Hot-button initiatives include gaining fresh insight into customer habits, rolling out Web portals to better serve sales staff and customers, and plugging customer response data into analytical software to gauge the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

Consider Oakwood Worldwide, which installed Siebel Systems' Call Center and Sales software packages in August 2004, a project that gave the San Mateo, Calif., corporate housing provider a better understanding of its customers.

Oakwood had used a homegrown contact management system, which tracked interaction with its customers' human-resources and relocation company personnel, but shed little light on the personal and professional backgrounds of the guests who actually stayed in its 30,000 apartments in the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia. Siebel provides Oakwood with a more comprehensive view of both constituencies, says Oakwood senior vice president Ric Villarreal, who oversees the company's information technology.

When Oakwood knows more about who its customers are, it can develop a marketing strategy its sales team can act upon. To that end, Oakwood this year plans to deploy Siebel's marketing and marketing analysis add-ons, which will help the company design and execute new campaigns, and then assess their effectiveness.

Villarreal says those additions will help the company identify and penetrate new markets, and "allow us to focus our salespeople on high-yield, high-payback activities."

This article was originally published on 2005-05-23
John writes the Contract Watch column and his own column for the Channel Insider.

John has covered the information-technology industry for 15 years, focusing on government issues, systems integrators, resellers and channel activities. Prior to working with Channel Insider, he was an editor at Smart Partner, and a department editor at Federal Computer Week, a newspaper covering federal information technology. At Federal Computer Week, John covered federal contractors and compiled the publication's annual ranking of the market's top 25 integrators. John also was a senior editor in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Computer Systems News.

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