Technology around customer interactions is critical, study says

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Using technology to create processes around customer interactions is critical to creating a customer-centric organization and deriving better returns from marketing investments.

This was a key finding from "Automating Leads to Sales - Improve Return on Marketing Campaigns," an Aberdeen report. It also found that small and mid-market enterprises are leading the industry in all metrics tracked.

"The findings of this study are consistent with what we have observed in the field," said Michael McCloskey, CEO, FrontRange Solutions USA Inc., a sponsor of the study, in a statement. "In fact, many large enterprises are now looking at the technologies, processes and best practices used by small and mid-size organizations for ideas on how to improve their own delivery of customer service. There is no question that the more you can integrate the various pieces of data around the enterprise using technologies, the more visibility you'll gain into what the customer wants from you, and the greater your return on your marketing investment will be."

Dublin, CA-based FrontRange Solutions (www.frontrange.com) develops software and solutions used by more than 130,000 companies and more than 1.2 million users worldwide to manage a wide variety of business relationships.

According to the study, best-in-class companies consistently demonstrate proficiency in multiple marketing capabilities, which has a positive impact on performance. The top performers use technology to track customer behavior, perform customer profitability modeling, maintain centralized knowledge and data management systems, and create real-time decision support. They are also using business intelligence tools integrated with marketing and customer data with higher frequency than benchmarked groups.

Among the findings from the study are:

--Fifty percent of SME and MME enterprises lead in capturing 70 percent of current customer profiles

--Fifty-five percent have centralized customer knowledge and data management processes in place

--Customer data is used to perform customer profitability modeling at rates significantly above average (41 percent v. 33 percent)

In addition, Boston-based Aberdeen (www.aberdeen.com) says leaders use customer analytics, multichannel interaction applications, business processes, and technology infrastructure across brands and product lines. It is this 360-degree view that allows them to better than 15 percent annual improvement in return on marketing investment, gross revenues and customer retention rates.

"Companies serious about building a customer-centric marketing organization will need to rethink how they create processes around customer interactions and how they invest in technologies that support advanced, rule-based communications," said Alan Hubbard, senior vice president of the customer management technology group at Aberdeen Group in a statement. "Our research demonstrates that small and mid-market enterprises are investing and deploying technologies, capabilities, and processes that facilitate closed-loop marketing processes at rates higher than the industry average."

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