Survey: Most Canadian Companies Use CRM

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Eighty-six percent of companies in Canada practice some level of customer relationship management, though only 60 percent have a long-term strategy in place, according to a study released yesterday by the Canadian Marketing Association in Toronto.

"CRM Benchmarks: Canada 2002 Edition -- A Roadmap for Improving Customer Relationships" was conducted by Decima Research in partnership with Deloitte Consulting. The study is the product of a partnership between the CMA and two Canadian CRM service providers, Carlson Marketing Group and The Loyalty Group.

Marketing and technology infrastructures are the priorities for implementation, the study said, and the biggest challenges are ensuring sufficient funding, establishing ownership and organizational alignment. Only one-third of businesses use CRM as part of a corporate-wide strategy.

The report included interviews with the senior person responsible for CRM in 159 of Canada's largest companies. Nine business sectors were represented: Automotive, financial services, packaged goods, pharmaceuticals, retail, technology, telecommunications, travel and tourism, and utilities.

The study found that the retail and financial services sectors tend to be at the forefront of CRM. The technology sector is also among the most active, partly because these companies are already familiar with information management tools.

But CRM is relatively new to the packaged-goods and pharmaceutical sectors, which tend to take more a narrow focus on sales due to the nature of their business models and lack of direct exposure to end-use customers. And the utility sector is a relative newcomer to CRM with a current focus on marketing initiatives and investing in front-end components, such as customer information and segmentation.

The study found that almost half of Canadian businesses are developing their CRM technology in-house. This trend appears to be driven in part by the high cost of purchased technology along with the need for specialized data requirements that cannot be addressed easily or cost-effectively through purchased solutions.

Companies with an enterprise-wide approach to CRM and active support of senior management are most likely to succeed in delivering their CRM strategy, the study said. These companies are also more likely to have identified and profiled customer segments, integrated customer data across services channels, have strong technology support and an employee strategy in place to align the work force, and measure CRM success in terms of the return on investment to the company.

The report is available from the CMA at the cost of $559 for CMA members and $899 for non-members.

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