NCDM Speaker: Sears CRM Program a Success

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Sears generated a 45 percent increase in incremental sales after instituting a CRM function in 2001, according to Kristine K. Crow, senior vice president, Sears Financial Services.


She revealed the statistic during her keynote address here at the Summer National Center for Database Marketing Conference yesterday.


Crow -- who was until recently vice president, customer relationship management for Sears Roebuck and Co., Hoffman Estates, IL -- discussed the evolution of Sears' CRM program and said it has been successful, in part, because there was buy-in from the CEO at the outset. The CRM group initially reported directly to the CEO, said Crow.


But at the beginning there was difficulty determining how the CRM function should work. She decided to "come up with a clear role for what the group was supposed to do," said Crow. "We needed a brief elevator speech.


"Prior to this time, we were probably focusing too much on behavior and not enough on needs and attitudes."


Crow said the focus of the program in 2002 was "all about building foundation." The group created a CRM business model with several core basics, including: identify target customer groups; understand target customer needs; align basic business models with customer needs; offer differentiated solutions to different target groups; and offer one-to-one solutions.


The CRM function was refined further in 2003 and 2004.


Having a better understanding of its customers contributed to the testing of a new version of its well-known kids club, KidVantage.


The new program, KidVantage Storybook, began a test in the first quarter and will be tested during the remainder of the year. It is targeted to kids ages 3-9. Sears has partnered with Scholastic. Kids' clothing is positioned in the context of a storybook. It is the first time Sears has partnered with another company for its KidVantage club.


In other news from Summer NCDM, the mood on the trade show floor could best be described as optimistic. An attendee who did not want to be identified said his company is moving away from mass e-mailings and is instead focusing on more sophisticated, targeted campaigns. His company just purchased a campaign management system.


Henry M. DiSciullio, managing director, direct marketing sales for Automated Resources Group Inc., Montvale, NJ, which recently purchased YellowBrick Solutions, said many people had come to his booth in search of new tools and solutions.


Also, Bill Seifert of 15billion.com, a sales training company, walked the trade show floor and said, "I'm looking for companies that sell e-mail lists because I'd like to do more e-mail marketing."


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