Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reviewing the State of CRM in 2000 Foretells Its Future in 2020

The business goals and challenges of customer relationship management (CRM) programs will remain the same today as they were 10 years ago, and they will continue to predominate during the next 10 years, according to Gartner, Inc.

CRM application pricing has changed dramatically during the past 10 years, with organizations commonly paying $1,000 to $1,500 per licensed user in 2009 compared with over $3,000 at its peak in 2000. The most common pricing model is still per user, but process-based pricing, fuelled by service-oriented architecture (SOA) and software as a service (SaaS) will become commonplace by 2020, up from less than 1 per cent of the time in 2009.

The shift to SaaS will see nearly 50 per cent of all field sales applications be delivered in this way by 2012, compared with less than 1 per cent in 2000. However, the percentage of all CRM applications delivered through SaaS will be only 25 per cent in 2012, and 40 per cent in 2020. As competition for SaaS CRM intensifies, pricing will drop from $800 per user per year in 2009 to near $500 by 2020.

Since 2000 the biggest change to technology-enabled CRM projects came with offshore external service providers. The shift to using offshore external resources for deploying CRM applications has reduced implementation costs, in most cases. More than 80 per cent of CRM application implementations in the US and UK involve some form of offshore resource. Yet, in countries such as France, Germany and Japan, this figure is less than 5 per cent. During the next decade, the use of offshore resources for these types of CRM projects will steadily rise as international competitive pressure increases, and the suppliers become more available.

The worldwide CRM application software market grew at a rate of nearly 90 per cent in 2000 then collapsed in 2001 bottoming out in late 2003. Since 2004, the market has grown steadily, at 11 per cent to 23 per cent per year. It is set for 10 per cent growth from 2007 to 2012, despite the recession in 2009 and knock-on in 2010. Gartner estimates that total revenue for CRM application software market in 2008 amounted to nearly $9 billion worldwide and will reach $10 billion in 2009, a 7 per cent per cent year-on-year increase. This includes licenses, maintenance and subscription revenues.

While the vendor landscape has changed dramatically, it is likely to change beyond recognition with the number of vendors leaving the market outpacing the number of new entrants. The five largest CRM application vendors are estimated to represent almost 60 per cent of the market in 2008. Gartner estimates that three or four large vendors will remain with an aggregate of more than 50 per cent market share in 2020.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Calibrate How You Operate

Current marketing operational models are becoming increasingly complex and more crucial to the strategic success of global businesses, but are facing significant challenges from entrenched corporate cultures, inter-departmental politics, and a lack of adequate data and information systems. According to new research by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, marketers fear they will be unable to implement the needed marketing platforms and automated processes required to effectively support strategic growth initiatives.

The research shows that even as global companies aspire to keep pace with dramatic market shifts and uncertain economic forecasts, major operational change appears extremely difficult to achieve. 83 percent of marketers say they face change-resistant corporate cultures, conflicts and competition between internal constituencies, and a resistance to operational accountability, visibility and measurement.

The study also revealed that global marketing executives are challenged by a lack of corporate mandate for alignment and integration. Some 41 percent of the 400-plus marketers audited point to siloed data and limited cross-functional feedback loops as major internal challenges subverting the marketing operational process. Many are also struggling with low adoption and use of CRM systems (38 percent). A surprising 28 percent say they lack ownership of critical aspects of the marketing budget while 26 percent continue to struggle for divisional control and independence.

The study underscores the critical need for marketing to drive operational effectiveness and optimally structure, resource, and run today's digitally driven, customer-centric, and globally distributed marketing organizations:

--More than 60 percent of respondents believe that marketing operational transformation is an essential area of focus. However, only 4.5 percent are very satisfied with their current level of marketing operational visibility, accountability and output.

--Overall marketing operational effectiveness is considered the least developed operational area by nearly 50 percent of respondents.

--Investments in web-centric platforms will continue in 2009 as the majority of marketers indicate they will invest in areas including email campaign management, web content management, eMetrics and web analytics platforms. Only 8 percent of respondents will look to eProcurement and strategic sourcing, an area that could yield significant budgetary savings and operational efficiencies, as a component of their marketing operations mix.

--While there is no clear method for budget development, only 10 percent of respondents indicate that marketing budgets are defined by a CMO-developed strategic agenda, while an equal number of executives see little to no forecasting, planning or budgeting within their organizations.

--More than 26 percent of the respondents are unsure of the level of funding that will be allocated to operational change programs; another 25 percent report that their companies will spend only $100,000 (US) or less on marketing operational improvement initiatives in the year ahead.

Customer engagement and customer centric communications are top of mind for marketers as there is a clear shift towards targeted, focused and precise communications. Many of the top operational improvements targeted by marketers revolve around optimizing customer engagement, including improving go-to-market strategies and efficiency and delivering a unified and consistent message.

Other key findings from the study include:

--Sixty-one percent of respondents are structured with centralized marketing operations and strategy with localized programs executed by regional/country managers

--A shocking 16 percent of marketers indicate that regardless of structure, marketing remains fragmented, lacking cohesion, integration and accountability

--It is clear that marketers are eager to embrace automation as a means to process optimization and effectiveness as only 19 percent indicate an organizational unwillingness to utilize marketing automation tools

--Also on a positive trend, only 17 percent of respondents indicate that marketing strategy is being rejected

--There are indications that alignment between sales and marketing is possible as the majority of marketers cite sales as being the primary stakeholder with interests and feedback relevant to marketing. This is confirmed as 94 percent of marketers are utilizing platforms designed to better capture, qualify, communicate, convert and manage leads and customer contact information.

More information on CRM can be found at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shared Services as a Cost-Cutting Tool Shows Dramatic Expansion

Shared Service Organizations (SSOs) have achieved dramatic improvements in cost and productivity, according to new research from The Hackett Group, Inc. While SSOs have been rewarded for such good work, business expectations are now forcing companies to drive toward a second wave of value creation utilizing complex operating models.

Hackett's latest research finds that companies seeking to move up the value chain are implementing a multi-layer shared services model that incorporates transaction processing centers in low-cost regions, centers of excellence, and high-level onsite support for analysis and decision-making. Many SSOs have also expanded beyond finance to incorporate functions such as IT, procurement, and HR -- in fact, an "everything in G&A" approach is leading edge. At the best SSOs executives make sourcing decisions relating to scope and geography within a continuous improvement and customer service culture.

With a nearly 50% increase in use over the past three years, shared services has become the standard approach to corporate finance. These centers have played a critical role in helping reduce the cost of finance. Today, typical companies spend almost 40% less on finance operations than they did in 1992. World-class finance organizations, which spend only half of what typical companies do, have seen even greater cost reductions.

Across the board, the results shared services has helped companies generate is quite impressive. Hackett research finds that 65% of all companies with SSOs have cut costs by 21% or more, with some seeing savings of over 60%. At the same time, they're showing dramatic improvements in productivity, quality, and customer service.

As next-generation SSOs move beyond pure transaction processing, world-class SSOs are evolving towards a three-layer model. Most have established large-volume transaction processing centers, often in low-cost labor markets. In addition, they've established centers of excellence, which are responsible for service delivery and are the primary interface to the business leaders. These are often much closer to the business geographically. Finally, high-level knowledge workers are likely to be co-located with the business units, so they can serve as on-site business partners. All this puts them in a better position to provide value-added services such as decision support and reporting and analysis. Within this three-layer model, Hackett is also seeing a growth in multifunction SSOs, incorporating a wide range of back-office operations beyond finance.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Drop in E-Commerce Satisfaction Ends Three Year Climb in American Customer Satisfaction Index

Customer satisfaction with the e-commerce sector falls for the first time in three years, dropping 2 percent to a score of 80 on a 100-point scale, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The decline is driven by a dramatic plunge in customer satisfaction with online brokerages, which were hit hard by the fallout from the financial crisis that erased billions of dollars of investment capital. The annual ACSI e-commerce report, released by the University of Michigan with e-commerce partner ForeSee Results, measures customer satisfaction with online retail, online brokerage, and online travel.

Online Brokerage

The economic downturn has been toughest on the online financial services industry, which plummets 6.3 percent to 74 on the ACSI’s 100-point scale. Each of the individual measured online brokerage firms also drops in customer satisfaction. TD Ameritrade suffers the biggest decrease in score of all measured companies in the industry, diving 11 percent to 71. This is the second largest decline of all 200+ companies measured by the ACSI in 2008 either online or offline, and the company’s financials directly reflect customer dissatisfaction.

Fidelity and Charles Schwab (NASDAQ: SCHW) with scores of 80 and 78 respectively, maintain leadership positions even while suffering 5 percent drops in satisfaction. E*Trade drops 6 percent to 69, solidly in last place.

Online Retail

After a three year climb, e-retail slips 1.2 percent to 82. A big decline by eBay, one of the largest and most prominent e-retailers, pulls down the aggregate score. eBay registers its worst performance ever, dropping 4 percent to 78. The leading online auction company is losing its edge, as discounts become harder to find and competition for goods drives prices higher. Also, major retailers are offering deeper discounts offline than ever before, giving customers less reason to shop for deals online.

Amazon continues to be one of the best performing companies in all of ACSI, despite a 2 percent drop to 86. The company reported strong financials and its best holiday shopping season ever. But record numbers of shoppers may have increased the incidence of shipping errors and other customer service gaps.

Computer and electronics e-retailer Newegg improves 1 percent to 88 to take the e-retail throne from Amazon. Netflix is up 1 percent to 85 in its sophomore year in the Index. Both companies have specific business models that target a much more limited audience than Amazon, which sells an enormous range of products. It is easier to satisfy a customer base that is shopping for specialized products than it is to satisfy customers that may want anything from books to TVs to shoes.

Online Travel

Customer satisfaction with online travel remains unchanged in aggregate year-over-year, though the industry has been slowly decreasing since 2002. The industry is going to need more than a boost in customer satisfaction in the wake of what industry experts predict to be the worst year for business and leisure travel since 2002.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Enterprise Mobile Phones Will Replace Desktop Phones in North America by 2011

Enterprises in North America will be supporting more mobile phones than desktop phones by 2011, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner analysts said that although most users will still also have a desktop phone, mobile phones will become more prevalent and replace desktop voice hardware to become the primary device.

Gartner said that as spending on mobile communications services grows, and soon overtakes that of wired voice services, enterprises will need to plan how they manage usage, support and costs. Although mobile hardware costs are generally less than desktops, mobile services can still cost five times more than an enterprise-wired call and this could represent a huge shift in budget for enterprise communications services.

Gartner recommends a four-step plan for enterprises to ensure a smooth transition to mobility:

1. Plan - It’s important to plan how and when the enterprise will support mobile technologies in the enterprise, decide who gets mobile voice and data and what the impact on cost structure will be. Many providers are willing to add additional wireless coverage for little or no cost, although this may mean consolidating to a primary provider to get the best deals and to ensure that everyone has the same carrier. As this transition occurs, Gartner advises using network convergence and services that transcend fixed and mobile service plans. Enterprises should also be aware that more capable mobile phones will drive the need to support other applications, which could impact other IT areas such as application development or security and their budgets.

2. Procure — During the next few years, contract negotiation is a good time to institute new fixed and mobile plans. Enterprises should look at zoned billing, flat-rate unlimited and mobile-to-mobile to reduce the cost of cellular calling. In the U.S., Gartner is starting to see, for large enterprises, bundled, unlimited flat-rate calling for voice and data services that are up to 25 percent off list prices. Lower service-costs will be a big driver for moving traffic from fixed to mobile

3.Manage — As the transition from fixed to mobile occurs, enterprises need to have a solid policy that addresses usage, costs, standards and security. IT working with the business groups should specify exactly who gets mobile services and how much will be spent in a thorough mobile policy. Mobile device platforms should be standardized so that application development and support can be centralized and easier managed. Enterprises also need to prepare the help desk for supporting a more challenging user, which could mean employing specialized technicians.

4.Remove — Organizations should have policies and procedures to remove unnecessary desk phones to reduce hardware and operating costs. This will ensure that the user has a one-number service, a softphone and a single voice mail, so that he or she can efficiently work without a desk phone. Gartner suggests making an annual count so that licensing fees can be rectified to reduce costs and surplus desk phones used for incoming nonmobile users.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Software as a Service Market Will Expand Rather than Contract Despite the Economic Crisis

Recent IDC surveys and customer interviews support the finding that the harsh economic climate will actually accelerate the growth prospects for the software as a service (SaaS) model as vendors position offerings as right-sized, zero-CAPEX alternatives to on-premise applications. Buyers will opt for easy-to-use subscription services which meter current use, not future capacity, and vendors and partners will look for new products and recurring revenue streams. As such, IDC has increased its SaaS growth projection for 2009 from 36% growth to 42% growth over 2008.

Additional findings from the IDC study include:

--By the end of 2009, 76% of U.S. organizations will use at least one SaaS-delivered application for business use.

--The percentage of U.S. firms which plan to spend at least 25% of their IT budgets on SaaS applications will increase from 23% in 2008 to nearly 45% in 2010.

--This market's growth prospects will accelerate the shift to SaaS for the whole value chain as the promise of a recurring revenue stream, and the opportunity to tap OPEX and project-related dollars, will benefit the whole SaaS ecosystem.

--While demand for SaaS is strongest in North America, new contracts from customers in Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) also look particularly positive, and IDC expects that by year-end 2009, nearly 35% of worldwide revenue will be earned outside of the U.S.

--On the downside, IDC interviews with SaaS providers highlighted several issues, such as cash-flow shortfalls related to slow-paying current clients, liquidity challenges stemming from tight credit at lenders, and -- on the horizon -- limited resources to scale up with expanded infrastructure to support new customers and new service offerings.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Opportunity for contact centers to utilize social networking sites to improve customer service

The current business environment consists of a struggling economy, in which customer acquisition is challenging, while consumers are increasingly sharing information on the web. These trends have created an opportunity for contact centers to utilize social networking websites to improve customer service at a low cost, by integrating Web 2.0 technologies with other communication technologies. Independent market analyst Datamonitor predicts that websites such as Twitter will become more ingrained into contact center customer service and customer relationship management (CRM) strategies, and Google's search capabilities are likely to be used for mining information from relevant websites.

The new meaning of 'multichannel contact center'

Call centers have been rebranded 'contact centers' because of the multiple ways in which customers can now contact customer service representatives. The traditional voice channel is rapidly being supplemented by email, SMS, interactive voice response (IVR) and instant messaging (IM). In the current economic climate, enterprises are more focused on customer retention and cost saving, and these new channels not only represent a convenient way for customers to communicate with the enterprise, but also an opportunity to save on agent costs.

Concurrent with the increased use of new channels for customer communication, enterprises are striving to understand customer issues in order to improve products and service. They are using knowledge management tools and customer analytics to understand trends. One communication channel that is still relatively untapped by enterprises is Web 2.0; the use of blogs, social networking, forums and search engines to share information. In 2009 contact center vendors and enterprises will begin to leverage these tools, as the vision of a truly multichannel contact center is realized.

Twitter is emerging as a customer service channel

Twitter is a cross between an online forum and instant messaging tool, which enables registered users to post short messages on their profile, which can be viewed by those who subscribe to their feed (known as followers). The service has been in the news frequently because of its use by celebrities and, more relevant, its use by leading retail brands to provide customer support and answer queries. Some of the early adopters that have successfully built up a presence on Twitter include Bank of America, Comcast, JetBlue, and Zappos, alongside many media and technology companies.

Twitter allows for only short messages of 140 characters or less, and this makes it a quick tool for posting information and responding to queries. Having a network of customers gives enterprises the opportunity to communicate information to a wide base and helps divert incoming phone calls. Customers can 'follow' all businesses that they have relationships with, which reduces the need to access separate websites for each, thereby saving time for the customers. Twitter also creates a community for customers to share information among themselves as a type of self-service. The 24/7 nature and location-independence of the internet, alongside the openness of Twitter, allows customers to converse with each other and answer queries when agents may not be available.

There are still a number of technical challenges to address

Some of the key concerns with integrating Web 2.0 channels into customer service solutions include the security in providing information over the web, the authenticity of postings and advisors, and data ownership. For example, banks using Twitter must be careful to educate customers about the hazards of posting personal details. Twitter is an open community, allowing anyone to find users and share information, but this can be seen as a disadvantage because there are no controls over who accesses information and the website could, in theory, be used to negatively target competitors' brands.

Although encouraging customers to share knowledge can relieve the pressure on agents, there is also a need to train staff and monitor the information. Twitter is still in the early adopter stage for customer service provision and it is initially contact center managers that will start trialing the tool. This can be costly in staff time and, once the channel becomes more established, there will be a need to train additional staff. The need for maintenance and quality control will become an issue that could potentially increase the workload of customer advisors.

Web 2.0 presents opportunities

Consumers are becoming more comfortable in sharing information about products and experiences on blogs and forums. The benefits are clear, because social networking websites are quick and easy to use, as opposed to writing letters or finding the correct telephone number. Contact centers managers should consider innovative ways to use the information from Twitter and Google searches in order to understand customers' needs more accurately and to discover issues with their customer service, and the products and services they are selling. Contact center staff can use Twitter to provide technical support, advice and product updates, as well as to find out what competitors are doing. Searching for brand mentions and customer complaints can help businesses to resolve customer problems before they escalate. This may result in extra security controls with opt-in clauses, in order to prevent spamming and protect customer privacy.

Datamonitor predicts that websites such as Twitter will become more ingrained into contact center customer service and CRM strategies, and enterprises should begin working closely with vendors to discover the best ways to leverage customer information. Google's search capabilities are likely to be used for mining information from relevant websites. Vendors should also present enterprises with the return on investment (ROI) benefits of such technologies; these ROI analyses should be relatively clear in terms of reduction in agent pressure and increased utilization of lower-cost self-service.
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

U.S. e-commerce comeback seen by 2010

E-commerce in the United States is expected to climb back to last year's levels by 2010 after experiencing slowing growth in 2009 due to the recession. Online sales in 2010 could reach approximately $176.9 billion, representing 13 percent growth, said Forrester Research in its five-year e-commerce forecast.

Last week, the group released data saying the online retail channel was expected to grow 11 percent to $156 billion in 2009, below the 13 percent growth seen in 2008, and the 15 percent growth it had earlier predicted for 2009. The deteriorating U.S. economy led to tepid online sales in 2008 as consumers cut back on all but the most necessary of purchases.

Online retailers faced severe competition from brick-and-mortar establishments that were heavily discounting merchandise, while giants from Inc to eBay Inc have acknowledged the challenging macroeconomic environment that has spooked not only consumers, but financial markets around the globe.

In 2009, greater numbers of affluent customers shifting their purchases from traditional retailers to online outlets will outweigh decreases seen from other customers stemming their spending overall, the report found.

But after an acceleration in 2010, Forrester predicts that growth will slow, with 10 percent, 9 percent, and 8 percent growth expected for 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively.

At the same time, e-commerce will pick up a greater piece of overall U.S. retail sales.

Whereas the online channel will make up 6 percent of total retail sales in 2009 and 2010, that will increase to 7 percent and 8 percent in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

Online sales in 2013 are similarly expected to make up 8 percent of overall sales.
-Source: Reuters

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Customer Experience and Satisfaction Key in 2009

Despite overwhelming agreement on the importance of customer experience and word-of-mouth, senior marketers admit their companies are failing to take decisive, company-wide action to integrate customer voice and experience into key business and marketing processes, according to a new study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council.

The study underscores critical deficiencies in the way companies measure, optimize and leverage customer experience to drive loyalty, improve brand value and increase business performance and growth, including:

--Insufficient availability and aggregation of real-time customer experience data across touch points that should be shared across the organization

--Poor use of customer interactions to collect insights and intelligence or maximize up-sell and advocacy opportunities

--Lack of Internet processes and systems to track online word of mouth and drive customer advocacy

--Intermittent or deficient monitoring of customer experience that fails to provide true and timely insights into problems and opportunities

--Too few compensation programs tied to customer experience, loyalty and satisfaction gains

Customer listening, learning and leveling are critical qualities that need to be part of an institutionalized corporate culture, notes the CMO Council. Yet, survey data demonstrates that most companies are not taking advantage of these opportunities to drive company-wide performance improvement and business growth. Instead, most companies treat customer interactions around service situations and incidents only as a problem that needs quick resolution:

--Only 36.6 percent of companies gather customer insight from customer engagement situations.

--Just 33 percent look for ways to turn problems into new sales opportunities, and only 16percent introduce new products or services to further monetize the relationship.

--Merely 15 percent use the opportunity to identify and cultivate potential customer champions and advocates.

While companies have a long way to go in turning detractors into brand advocates, senior marketers are clearly aware of the importance of customer experience. In fact, 83.3 percent of respondents said it is either "essential" or "increasingly important" in driving brand advocacy and business performance. In addition, 83.6 percent said positive customer experiences and word of mouth have helped their brands and businesses grow. There were 45.8% of respondents who admitted that high-profile negative customer experiences had at some time compromised their brands.

Only 31.7 percent rate their company's commitment to customer listening highly, but another 34.7 percent say it is "getting better." Although 33 percent of respondents said their companies have made no changes to the way they track and analyze customer experience in recent years, it can be seen as a positive development that 44.8 percent of respondents say their companies have taken steps to better integrate and analyze customer data. Another 38.5 percent said they have increased personalization and intimacy in their customer communications and approximately 21 percent say they have embraced intelligent Internet analytics and are capturing real time information at the "point of pain."

Other key findings of the study include:

--Two-thirds of companies do not have Voice of Customer program in place.

--Only 12.9 percent of companies have deployed real-time systems to collect, analyze and distribute customer feedback.

--While 74.6 percent say they receive customer feedback via e-mail, only 23 percent say they track and measure the volume and nature of these messages.

--Customer voice has gone online, but only 14.4 percent track word of mouth on the Internet

--Only 11.5 percent are using a word-of-mouth marketing platform to drive online customer advocacy.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Sales of Smartphones to Reach 300m by 2013

High-end mobile handsets (so-called ‘smartphones’) are expected to account for a growing proportion of mobile phones sold each year, potentially sustaining the performance of key brands at a time of economic uncertainty. A new report from Juniper Research forecasts that, between 2008 and 2013, annual sales of smartphones will rise by 95% to over 300 million.

Underpinning Juniper’s forecast is the finding that a rising demand for complex Web 2.0-centric applications is broadening user appeal and expanding the overall market for ‘Smart’ devices. This key trend is not being lost on handset manufacturers, large and small alike, as they increasingly rely on sales of high-end devices to mass market users. Thanks to this change in focus, smartphones will increasingly become the basis for the next generation of mobile devices.

Other findings include:

• By 2013, around 23% of all new mobile phones will be smartphones, up from 13% in 2008

• Overall, mobile device shipments grew by a nominal 5-6% at best in 2008, but key vendors are projecting a decline of up to 10% or more in 2009

• As margins on handsets fall, vendors like Nokia and Sony Ericsson are increasingly diversifying into the service provision arena as a means of bolstering earnings -- solutions such as music libraries and location-based social networking present significant opportunities in the future

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Gartner Survey Shows CRM Projects in Europe Largely Remain in Place in 2009

According to a recent survey from Gartner, Inc. more than three quarters of respondents in Europe said they are planning to enhance their investments in CRM initiatives in 2009. These projects will focus on improving customer retention and increasing wallet share.
Gartner surveyed nearly 90 European business and IT leaders who influenced the CRM strategy in their organization in the third quarter of 2008 and carried out a follow up poll in December.

Gartner estimates that CRM spending in 2009 will not decline as dramatically as it did after 2000, but growth will be more moderate than in previous years. It forecasts that the European CRM software market will reach $3.5 billion (€2.4billion) in 2009, an increase of 4 per cent from 2008.

The survey respondents also reported that their primary objectives for their CRM programs were first, to enhance cross-selling or upselling of products and services, second to increase customer satisfaction and third to increase sales revenue. The only area that saw a notable change in emphasis from the two surveys conducted was an increase in efficiency and reducing cost.

In terms of their CRM technology focus, the majority of respondents indicated that they were not currently looking to select new CRM technologies (40 per cent) and were reviewing existing technologies (32 per cent). Many organizations have gone through their first- or second-generation CRM technology implementation and are looking to optimize or move to a newer product to benefit from new functions and business process support for their CRM strategies.

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