June 11, 2001, 12:00 AM

Integrated e-CRM on verge of boom, says a new study

‘E-CRM programs are rapidly gaining popularity, particularly for ‘brick-and-click’ companies selling through stores, catalogs and e-commerce channels,’ concludes Gantry Group study.

Online retailers--especially the clicks-and-bricks merchants-understand the power of Internet customer relationship management, says a new study of e-CRM by The Gantry Group, a custom market research and advisory firm. ”ECRM programs are rapidly gaining in popularity as their ability to develop close customer relationships is heightened, particularly for ‘brick-and-click’ companies selling through stores, catalogs and e-commerce channels,” the Gantry study, released today, concludes.

Among the findings:
--Of the companies who have not implemented an e-CRM solution yet, over 81% are planning to introduce an integrated e-CRM program in the next 12 months;
--Of those who have a non-integrated e-CRM solution in place now, over 91% plan to integrate it over the next 12 months.

Respondents said they are instituting e-CRM programs to better analyze customer data in order to improve margin and profitability, and to improve customer retention and customer satisfaction via their e-CRM solutions, Gantry said.

"One of the most interesting insights we exposed," said Dawna Paton, managing partner of the Gantry Group, "was that almost two-thirds of survey respondents clearly stated their interest in solutions that provide integrated e-CRM that include data warehousing, analysis infrastructure, reporting and data mining tools for segmentation and list generation. There is no doubt about the value proposition of integrated e-CRM programs now that the ROI of these solutions is being proven out."

The Gantry Group said one surprising finding is the fact that what companies consider the most important element to monitor is not necessarily what they actually do monitor. Although monitoring of online call center turns out to be the second most important activity to all companies, and the most important to bricks-and-click companies it is, in fact, only the 7th most often deployed tool within e-CRM solutions in-house and 8th outsourced, much less often, for example, than outbound email.

Other findings include the fact that companies who are already using integrated e-CRM to gain insight about customer lifetime value, are now trying to better understand price optimization and precision merchandising. On the other hand, companies without integrated solutions are trying to better understand more fundamental issues such as lifetime value of customers and the impact of customer service on profitability. Companies with no e-CRM in place at all are seeking the lowest level of information -- namely monitoring user experience.

The Gantry study also reported that with over 92% of respondents believing in e-CRM`s ability to develop personal relationships that enable companies to match offerings to the individual customer, and over 91% of respondents seeing their web site as a critical part of their business model, customer service profitability via e-CRM programs has become a major focus of companies hoping to gain a competitive advantage in the next year. These respondents also believe in e-CRM`s ability to improve customer retention and offer high-quality service to their most valuable customers.


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