CRM Must Be An Internal Project, It Can't Be Purchased

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LAS VEGAS -- When it comes to CRM, a firm must build integral linkages -- they cannot be purchased.

This was one key insight offered by Scott Radcliffe, director of decision sciences for Sprint/Nextel Communications' customer lifecycle management group. Radcliffe spoke on a panel at the Customer Relationship Management Mega Session at the BetterManagement LIVE Worldwide Business Conference here.

"The integral linkages that drive [customers] to build trust -- you can't buy them," he said. "One of the things that sometimes gets missed is that [people believe] 'I'll go buy some technology and it will solve all my problems.' But there is no magic bullet, there is no magic neural network."

However, Radcliffe added that "selecting the appropriate technologies" could minimize the technical hurdles in building those linkages. One is buying technology that allows the creation of a metadata infrastructure whereby a company can quickly bring in two types of information and apply it not only to do analyses but also to do new customer impact programs, for example.

Another insight Radcliffe offered is that the learning process for CRM must be iterative, but always focused on real business and financial objectives.

"This is all about creating trust with the customer," he said. "Business people have to do that, not the analytic people like me. Always, always pursue the development of an analytic platform in the context of specific business opportunities."

Radcliffe also discussed the importance of building accountability and commitment in developing new business linkages in an organization.

"Companies have to have a cultural commitment to understanding their customers and developing trust with them," he said. "The commitment has to be across the entire process of managing customers -- whether it is in the call center, the marketing program design, the analytic shop or in the database development area over in IT."

Also speaking at the mega-session were: Giles Pavel, head of analysis at the international customer and marketing consultancy dunhumby that works with Tesco, the UK-based retailer; Theo Nkone, general manager, technology solutions, Old Mutual South Africa; Steve Messenger, senior director, Customers in Focus service, Ispos; and Don Peppers, founding partner Peppers & Rogers Group. The session was moderated by Phil Winters, vice president, customer intelligence, SAS.

SAS paid for some of Melissa Campanelli's travel exepenses.
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