SAN ANTONIO – While the use of customer-relationship management (CRM) technology is becoming more widespread among credit unions and other financial institutions, its implementation is often piecemeal and usually outsourced, according to a new survey. Harte-Hankes Inc. conducted the survey in May ( and included 300 North American companies using CRM programs. About 10% of the respondents were financial institutions. Harte-Hankes is based in San Antonio, Texas, and is a worldwide provider of CRM and related marketing services. The survey found that more than 80% of CRM solutions were being outsourced, at least in part, for construction and maintenance. It also focused on the various users of the customer information and found that not all information was shared throughout the individual businesses. “While many of us think of CRM solutions as `enterprise-wide’ with `full customer views,’ companies are taking a more phased approach to achieving such ambitious CRM gains,” said Gary Skidmore, Harte-Hanks’ president for CRM. “That may be because companies want to see relevance and return on investment in more specific CRM projects before rolling out CRM efforts on a grander scale.” CRM generally refers to technology used to capture, analyze and share customer and prospect data at all points of contact. “We define CRM as using technology as an enabler for organizations to initiate and to sustain a dialogue with customers in a way that makes it less likely the customers will go elsewhere,” Skidmore says. “Yet CRM means different things to different organizations. Parameters vary significantly from one company to the other. For example, opinions vary as to what constitutes CRM, what types of customer and prospect information are involved, who has access to data and derived knowledge, whether or not the data delivery is Web-enabled, and how each CRM solution is championed,” he says. One generally recognized component of CRM is sharing information. The Harte-Hanks survey found that 70% of respondents provide inside sales people access to customer data. Others who benefit from an “enterprise-wide” approach are: customer service/tech support (67%); outside/field sales (59%); marketing communications (51%) accounting/finance (41%) product marketing (41%) and call centers (40%) among other company functions. Another recognized component of CRM is gaining a full view of a company’s “touch points” with its own customers. The Harte-Hanks research found that the top four items included in this shared view are: client product purchase history (71%) client revenue/sales history (69%) technical service/customer support history (64%) and external contact data culled from outside commercially available sources (54%). [email protected]

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