Customer Relationship Management (CRM) represents a comprehensive and extensive business marketing strategy integrating processes, technology and all activities related to customers.
As a solid platform, pursuing permanent development and improvement, the Internet provides a solid base to deliver CRM services-the eCRM. In most cases, eCRM is a one-to-one experience, involving the company's representative and the customer. The main characteristics of Internet positively influencing eCRM are:
- Fast transfer of information and quick access to resources
- No space and time concerns
- Easy to analyze and compare various organizations, objects or events.
- Flexible and interactive
- Easy accessible around the world
Due to its flexible nature, the online environment allows the customer to access different websites, compare products, offers and services provided by a number of companies and interact with their representatives on a one-to-one basis. On the other side of spectrum, companies are able to develop strong relationships with their actual or prospective customers, personalizing the interaction with each individual customer.
Considering the customer-company relationship, an online service provider must focus on target customers, analyze the competition for that specific market segment (competitive analysis) and the long-term interaction in order to achieve customer satisfaction (strategic planning). eCRM can be basically defined as an online-based, interactive process established between the customer and the company with the goal of strengthening the business-client relationship.
The Internet offers so many opportunities and it empowers the customer to easily switch the suppliers, compare prices, products and offers with just several mouse clicks. What the vast majority of customers are looking for is the winning combination of high quality/low price for the product or service they intend to buy. Unfortunately this combination does not always work right because the same offer may be widely available to multiple online suppliers. What makes the difference is how these companies do address the concerns of prospective customers to create both product-related satisfaction as well as a great business-client relationship.
Implementing an effective CRM strategy addressing customer's concerns and issues is what actually makes the difference beyond the product itself or services being sold. An effective CRM is when the customers' retention rate maintains stable or increases.
The eCRM systems suppose complex IT apps (CRM applications) and their selection must follow relevant criteria like: app architecture, functionality, company strategy or legacy back office systems.
There are three main types of CRM applications widely available. They are as following:
- Operational CRM apps: these applications are used to automate sales while improving customer service and overall providing a better online marketing experience.
- Analytical CRM solutions: are mainly used to analyze data, gathering a wide range of information and output the analytical results.
- Collaborative CRM applications: are used to build online communities and develop B2B customer exchanges.
In order to implement a successful CRM strategy, Customer-centric organizations are committed to improve customer satisfaction levels. There are several methods these organizations are operating with: collecting customer data to increase product sales, gaining an adequate knowledge about clients, implementing CMS (customer management systems). The most important operations for implementing an efficient CRM are:
- Identifying individual characteristics for each customer within the target segment.
- Assessing the value and potential of each customer.
- Building operational plans and long-term strategies to support the desired customer experience.
- Implementing efficient customer relationship strategies.