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ebizQ's Business Agility Watch

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The Rise of Customer Relationship Management

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Years ago I owned a couple of retail yogurt shops, and after a few years of 100 hour work weeks with an up and down business in an up and down economy, one lesson held true: while the product you sell is important, equally important is your relationship to the customer.

In my years as owner, I truly refined my customer relationship skills, but came to realize that my skills only extended to the front door of my store. The problem was: I had two stores, and the one I worked in was thriving; the other shop, not so much.

So I have a big interest in customer relationship management tools, as I feel it is central to the success of any customer-facing business (is there any nongovernmental business that's not customer facing?).

A few days ago Gartner came out with some key CRM predictions for 2010. They are:

1) By the end of 2010, Facebook will be the No. 1 social network in all but 25 countries, but it will not be No. 1 in Brazil, Russia, India, China or Japan.

Only reason Facebook is not number one in those other countries is either government control or the folks in those countries use some other service. That means CRM specialists can narrow their focus down to just a few social media sites using just a few languages.

2) Through 2010, marketing budgets will remain flat in more than 90 per cent of companies, despite a return to growth.

Makes sense, but I also see this as an opportunity for a company willing to shell out a bit more in marketing to make up market share on the competition. The economy is growing this year, and small, aggressive enterprises can make a move and make up ground.

3) By the end of 2010, more than 80 per cent of market growth in social applications will centre around a business use case for improving external customer relationships, rather than improving internal collaboration.

So they see money migrating away from collaboration technologies, which has a longer, more indefinite ROI (but still offers a significant competitive advantage), to external, customer facing CRM, which is immediate. And as they say, What matters is measured, and measuring means money.

4) By the end of 2011, more than 90 per cent of Fortune 1000 marketing campaigns will include online marketing, up from 50 per cent in 2009.

Absolutely!

A last mention of CRM, while running one successful store and lamenting what to do with the other, I kept hoping that technology would pick up so I'd be able to clone myself and work two,three, four stores at once.

Social media and CRM tools offer just such a promise for one person to have a greater and bigger impact than ever.

ebizQ’s expert blog team covers a broad range of BPM, business integration, business analytics/monitoring, collaboration, content and related issues.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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