CRM Strategy Assume your team was promoted to lead the Customer Experience Department, which includes all marketing and customer support functions under yo

CRM Strategy Assume your team was promoted to lead the Customer Experience Department, which includes
all marketing and customer support functions under your responsibility. Your target audience are
large companies with 1,000 employees or more that may need your product and service
offerings. You were brought in to make changes to strategies in two main areas: the Call Center. 

You will expand the company’s call center services since it just merged with another 

company. Your new job will involve setting up a new system, new processes, training 

new agents and measuring their performance. You will have a team of 25 agents under 

your responsibility. 

• You are tasked with making sure that your agents deliver outstanding service in the way 

customers choose to start a conversation, from anywhere and with any device: email, 

phone, SMS, social media, online communities or real-time web chat. 

• Your goals are to increase agent productivity by 30%, increase the speed in first contact 

case resolutions by 35%, increase customer retention by 25%, and convert 20% of leads 

(inquiries from inbound calls) into customers. 

Your boss has asked you to submit a written plan (350 words) that explains how you
will utilize technology to achieve the company’s goals in the Call Center.
Using the information you have learned from Modules 8-10 and the CRM software training
completed to date:
• Describe the steps you would take
• The specific features you would use, and how these would be used to help you be more
effective in your efforts. The CRM ecosystem consists of application software vendors, hardware and infrastructure vendors, and
CRM service providers. In this module, we will cover the various parties that make up the CRM
ecosystem. You will be able to distinguish between the different CRM product and service providers and
recognize the most common and popular ones on the market. The idea here is not for you to become an
expert in these products and services but rather that you have an idea of what is available in the
marketplace. We will also look at the latest CRM technology trends, the various types of applications,
including analytical CRM, and their role in facilitating CRM processes.
The technology component of CRM is the most overwhelming given the ever-expanding number of
offerings and the alternatives available. There are two issues that you must keep in mind as we talk
about technology. The first one is dealing with the actual CRM software vendors. The second one is
staying on top of the trends which are constantly changing. The frequently changing surroundings of the
technology landscape such as web dependencies, changing technology standards, big data, and changing
process best practices, have made it challenging for technology vendors to deliver enabling CRM
technologies. Regardless, it’s important for technology vendors to determine the return on investment
for deploying new CRM solutions and helping companies justify these investments.

The business challenge then is to find a direct correlation between the systems implementation and the
business benefits that are realized. There are so many factors that you must consider when you are
dealing with a successful CRM project such as people and processes. It’s also hard to figure out how the
technology component will help the people and the processes achieve maximum results, maximum
profits, and revenues. While CRM software sales will continue to expand, the emphasis is now shifting
from capturing customer interactions to providing valuable customer journeys and experiences. This
means that companies are looking to integrate multiple systems and channel partners, which we’ve
referred to as multi-channel integration.

Another major trend that has been in place for the last couple of years and will continue, is the focus on
leveraging analytical software. The idea is to make sure that we’re taking advantage of newfound data
and using it intelligently, as we learned with the IDIC framework. Now let’s look into who makes up
this CRM market, industry — the ecosystem — and who are its players.

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CRM primarily affects sales, marketing and service business processes. However, technology solutions
should not be considered until business processes have been clearly designed. Simply plugging in a
piece of software isn’t going to solve anything unless you have figured out how it’s going to be used and
how you are going to train your employees in their day-to-day operations. What good is a new app on your
mobile device if you don’t know how you are going to use with your tasks? Remember: Process design first –
then technology.

Sales, marketing, and service functions can vary in companies, based on the types of customers targeted, the
products/services sold, the industry, and the overall markets. Some companies are very small; others are
conglomerates, global organizations with hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide. The good news is
that there are a diverse number of technology and service providers that can help any company in any
industry, maximize the effectiveness of their sales, marketing, and service processes. The CRM market or
ecosystem has grown considerably over the past decade. Grand View Research valued the total global CRM
market at $43.7 billion in 2020 and expects it to reach $47.6 billion this year. It further expects the market to
expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6 percent through 2028 (CRM Magazine, 2021).

The CRM market is composed of companies that offer hardware, software, and consulting services.
Companies embarking on a CRM journey will most likely turn to one or more of these providers to aid in
the implementation of a CRM strategy. This module introduces you to important definitions, terms, and
classifications related to the CRM market and the types of solutions provided by various companies. We will
use CRM Magazine to study 10 categories of CRM solutions: Enterprise CRM, CRM for Midsize and
Small Businesses, Contact Center Infrastructure, Contact Center Analytics, Workforce Optimization
(WFO), Contact Center Outsourcing, Business Intelligence Analytics, Customer Data Platforms
(CDPs), Marketing Automation, and Sales Force Automation. We will review the leading providers in
each of these categories.

For objectives four and five, you will have an opportunity to review the impact that this technology has on
sales, marketing and service processes. This becomes the foundation for upcoming modules where we will
study how processes and technology come together in sales, marketing, and service. For your last
learning objective, you will evaluate the use of Salesforce and explain the benefits that it has for
companies implementing a CRM strategy.

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MODULE 8

©2021 Sarah Cherres

Let’s review the Gartner eight building blocks of CRM and discuss a little bit more about block
number six, which is CRM information. We touched on it earlier when we spoke about identifying
and differentiating customers and the type of data that we collect when we interact with customers.
You will see that blocks 6 and 7 are very interrelated.

In this module, we’re going to be focusing more on block number seven which is CRM technology.
This has to do with the infrastructure of technology within an organization, the architecture and the
different software applications that are used to be able to collect information, store information about
the customer, and then deliver the information to whomever needs to use it to better interact and
customize interactions with customers.

This module also connects with the Trailhead Salesforce module that addresses DATA
QUALITY.

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Given the current needs and trends in business today, CRM technology plays a key role in
enhancing the quality of customer experiences. Some of technology’s key roles are:

• To collect and gather relevant and quality customer data and information from all touch points

• To use this information to build accurate profiles on each customer

• To organize and deploy customer information in a systematic and orderly fashion to those
employees and stakeholders that serve the customer.

• To use customer information in an intelligent way and make decisions about CRM-related sales
and marketing strategies, such as execute tailored marketing campaigns and actions, unique to each
customer.

• Ultimately, the role of technology is to create and maintain a unique customer experience.

Now there are challenges that exist in using CRM
technology:

• CRM must be flexible enough to stay in touch with a changing audience (the customer). CRM
must satisfy the different requirements of different industries. That’s why many software vendors
are creating vertical solutions. These are customized to cater to a specific industry.

• CRM must be accessible to external stakeholders and mobile professionals such as salespeople
and field technicians. CRM must operate over any communication channel in a reliable and
efficient manner.

• CRM must integrate with (or talk to) other systems to provide a single view of, and for, the
customer. CRM must be implemented in such a way that appropriate work processes and skills
are deployed.

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You can see from the diagram in the slide that the CRM environment has multiple players, including
internal departments such as sales, marketing and service, external partners & customers, and others.
They all require some level of access to customer data. There are also multiple communication or
multi-channel distributions, with the goal being to achieve a single view or 360-degree view of the
customer. Any company looking to implement a CRM strategy looks for the following
functionalities from its technology:

• Real time data availability for improved customer interactions;

• Organization of information into a single location;

• Ability to work smarter and make quick but effective decisions;

• Solid relevant and quality data; and

• Better efficiency, more productivity – do more with fewer resources.

There are different levels of needs and budgets and consequently, different technology solutions.
Some are for front-office use; others for back-office; some look for front and back-office
integration; yet others look for call center, sales force automation, or web solutions. Some
companies look for a complete customer-based solution, or ERP. Others are small entrepreneurs
looking to stay organized.

Depending on the resources available within a company, some may look for in-house solutions
meaning that an IT (technology) staff designs, builds and implements the CRM technology solution.
Other companies prefer a packaged solution – some very small and some for larger organizations. In
order to accomplish CRM goals effectively and efficiently, software applications, hardware and
professional services are necessary. The important thing to remember is that you can’t have a CRM
system like the one in the diagram without the technology that aligns with your customers’ needs
and business goals and with your company’s business processes.

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MODULE 8

©2021 Sarah Cherres

The CRM basic architecture is common to any company that has a CRM system in place. It’s the basic framework or the
bare-bones that any company that has a CRM system in place needs. This architecture is made up of three components.
The first component is a data collection system. The second component is a data warehouse system and the
third component is the information delivery system. We are using the word “system” is not just one piece of information
or one item. It’s a collection of activities (processes), people and technologies. In this diagram we see that the inputs into
this data collection system are data and information, and they can come from internal sources, external sources or from
those customer touch points that we looked at in the previous slide.

Let’s look at an example. Assume that you have a phone and your phone rings and when you look at the caller ID or the
screen, you don’t recognize that phone number but answer the call anyway. Your phone is being used as a data collection
system and the data that came into that phone is a phone number. You needed hardware (mobile device) in order to be
able to process that phone call and the actual phone number information. You needed a software application that enabled
the signal coming in and the ring so that you would take action on that call.

Now if you decided to take the phone number and set it up as a new contact, you would need a software application within
your phone that would enable you to go ahead and save that phone number and give the contact a first and last name. In
addition to that, you could even go further and decide this is somebody that you’re interested in keeping as a contact. You
capture the e-mail address or other information you have. As you learn more about the contact, you fill in address,
birthday, etc. These other functions require a software application that can be performed in that data collection system.

Once you make that decision to capture the data on this contact, they get saved into the second component of this
architecture, which is the data warehouse system. The data goes into storage and that storage or warehouse can be looked
at in two different subcomponents which we will talk about later. One is an individual database. Depending on how robust
the CRM system is, you can have multiple databases. In the case of our telephone example, you would probably only have
one small database. The point to note here is that once you save that information, it gets stored somewhere.
Assume three weeks go by and you decide you want to make a phone call to this contact or you want to send them a text
message. You extract the information from your phone and you take action on that information. And that’s the third piece
of this which is the information delivery system. For you to take action, to text that person or call them, you need the
software application and the hardware to be able to do that. The information delivery system is that ability to extract the
information (the output) out of that storage and to use that information through a process of making a phone call or texting
that person.

Keep in mind that you can have the best technology in the world, but if the INPUTS are poor quality, so will the
performance of the technology or the OUTPUTS. Each of us uses technology for a purpose: to communicate, to perform
certain tasks, etc. If the data in an app is incomplete or incorrect, it can lead to poor outcomes. The flip side is also true. If
we don’t have the right hardware, network infrastructure, software applications and it is not all connected properly, the
OUTPUT will suffer. If we don’t choose the right hardware and software and service providers for our own processes,
then what’s the point?

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The data collection system (also termed data input, acquisition, capture or data gathering process) is a set of steps
(or process) whereby data are collected and converted into some electronic format. Data collection is the process of
capturing computer-readable formats acquired from internal sources, from data entry operators, or from multiple
touch points from external sources. Data collection is the ongoing process of gathering information about customers –
their needs, desires, interests, characteristics, demographics, and behaviors.

Refer to the right hand-side of the diagram. Hardware and software applications enable the capturing of data. There is
a growth in the number of communication technologies available today for company employees to collect customer
data such as a phone, email, web, wireless devices, laptops, direct mail, salespeople, and more. There is also a
growing trend in the number of company touch points in which customer data can come into the company: a branch,
contact center, field service, service desk, partners, suppliers, and more. CRM systems must then be able to operate in
the office, out of the office, and over the web.

You, as customers, have been involved in giving companies information about you and your computer. Most of the
time, the data must be secured from the customer. Some retailers, in an effort to capture marketing information on
their customer, have implemented systems at the POS (point of sale) location by which a salesperson can enter into a
POS system, subjective data on the customer, such as level of satisfaction, temperament, and optimal approach (i.e.,
how to approach the customer based on first-hand experience) to a respective customer. The companies are
capturing behavioral data. This type of data collection may happen at high-margin retailers where personal selling is
a large part of the sales process (Example: Nordstrom). The customer would probably perceive this data collection
negatively, so the entering of this information must be secure from the customer. To enter at a later time may not be
feasible, as the salesperson may forget, become distracted with another customer, or still be involved with the
customer that they are entering information on while the sales process is still in play.

Once collected, the data must be secured. The data captured must not be lost, either in whole or in fragments. The
amount of data, by that I mean the number of transactions and data elements within transactions, must be quantified
as a control function. If for any reason the software or system being used loses data, there should be a process defined
and executable to recover the data.

Finally, as data is being transferred from the point of collection to its next processing step, such as the process of
placing data into a common format, it must not be modified, thus maintaining its original content and integrity. This
is critical not only for completeness of marketing information, but also for input into the decisions made afterward
when referencing the data. Users must have quality data. Please take a few moments to revisit the material from the
Data Quality Trailhead badge.

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Data sources, both inside and outside the firm, provide data that describe relationships with
customers. The data warehouse system (considered the heart of CRM) prepares the data for storage,
stores the data, describes the data so that it might later be retrieved, and performs a management and
control function.

A database is an accumulation of computer-based data that is arranged in a format to facilitate
retrieval. It is a collection of data stored, controlled, and accessed through a computer, based on the
way the data is organized. As noted in our last slide, a company can have many databases. A data
warehouse is a large reservoir of detailed and summary data that describes the firm and its activities,
organized by the various business units in a way to facilitate easy retrieval of information describing
the firm’s activities. A data mart is a subset of the data warehouse that contains data relating to a
portion of the company’s transactions. Data mart project costs are lower because the volume of data
stored is reduced, and the number of users is capped. Technology requirements are less demanding.

The information delivery system, or third component of our CRM system, allows the contents of the
data warehouse to be made available to the information users in the form of electronic or printed
information reports and displays. The system therefore transforms data into information. Since CRM
system users can be found at all organizational levels, from the president to sales clerks, executives
can use the system in formulating corporate strategies involving the organization’s customers
(summary data) while sales clerks can use the system in working with their individual customers
(detailed data). Software applications are equipped with features that allow companies to create
different user profiles and control which screens or data an employee can access or create, depending
on their role within the company. You don’t want everybody being able to update or change customer
records. Some roles may only be able to view information.

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What kind of technology infrastructure did we need in order to be able to perform those three basic functions: data
collection, the data storage or the warehouse, and then the information delivery? That’s what CRM technology
infrastructure is all about. It’s those different pieces of hardware and software that support the flow and the processing
of information back and forth. Notice the slide here – we have four different areas. We have hardware, networks,
software and databases.

Let’s think of the information as being similar to electricity, being crucial to the functioning of a house, then the IT
infrastructure is like the transmission lines or the power plants that run behind the scenes that generate and supply that
electricity. In this sense, the IT infrastructure is going to include the transmission media, such as the telephone lines
or the fiber-optic cables or the satellites or the routers or computers that are necessary to successfully operate that
network. Those would be the hardware components of this infrastructure.

The IT infrastructure also includes software that is necessary to send, receive and manage all of the signals and all of
that information that is transmitted on this network. In the case of our telephone example, the software was needed to
be able to send that phone information back and forth and then to receive the signals back and forth. The software
includes two to three general categories. The first one is the operating system that you need for the network operating
system. The second is middleware for legacy databases (older systems) and then the actual software applications.
We talked about software applications a little bit already in the semester with the three main software application
types being sales force automation, marketing automation, and service support.
Another important component of the overall infrastructure are databases. Databases are primarily the accumulation
of data which are organized in an efficient manner. We will cover more detail about databases. There are many
different types of databases and you can arrange information in different ways based on the different formats of the
data that you are storing.

As far as networks, a local area network or LAN is a group of computers and associated devices that share a
common communications line and typically share the resources of a single processor or what we call a server within a
small geographic area or within an office building. Usually the server has applications and data storage that are shared
in common by multiple computer users. A local area network (LAN) may serve as few as two or three users, for
example in a home network, or as many as thousands of users in a large corporation. The LANs in a corporation may
then be connected to a bigger area network which is called a wide area network, or a WAN. A WAN is much larger
than the land geographically and consists of several local area networks that are all connected together. So a WAN
may span a corporate campus or even several states. WANs can be privately owned or can even be rented but usually
some portion of its structure includes public networks. Most enterprise networks consist of a wide assortment of
different communication media and network configurations.

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Cloud computing is internet-based computing in which large groups of remote servers are networked to allow the
centralized data storage, and online access to computer services or resources. Clouds can be classified as public,
private or hybrid. For a user, the network elements representing the provider-rendered services are invisible, as if
obscured by a cloud.

Cloud computing is the result of evolution and adoption of existing technologies and paradigms. The goal of cloud
computing is to allow users to take benefit from these technologies, without the need for deep knowledge about or
expertise with each one of them. The cloud aims to cut costs, and help the users focus on their core business
instead of being impeded by IT obstacles. The “cloud” also focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of the shared
resources. Cloud resources are usually not only shared by multiple users but are also dynamically reallocated per
demand. This can work for allocating resources to users. For example, a cloud computer facility that serves
European users during European business hours with a specific application (e.g., email) may reallocate the same
resources to serve North American users during North America’s business hours with a different application (e.g., a
web server). This approach should maximize the use of computing power thus reducing environmental damage as
well since less power, air conditioning, etc. are required for a variety of functions. With cloud computing, multiple
users can access a single server to retrieve and update their data without purchasing licenses for different
applications.

The term “moving to cloud” also refers to an organization moving away from a traditional model (buy the dedicated
hardware and depreciate it over a period of time) to the cloud model (use a shared cloud infrastructure and pay as
one uses it). Proponents claim that cloud computing allows companies to avoid upfront infrastructure costs and
focus on projects that differentiate their businesses instead of on infrastructure. Proponents also claim that cloud
computing allows enterprises to get their applications up and running faster, with improved manageability and less
maintenance, and enables IT to more rapidly adjust resources to meet fluctuating and unpredictable business
demand. Cloud providers typically use a “pay as you go” model. This can lead to unexpectedly high charges if
administrators do not adapt to the cloud pricing model. The present availability of high-capacity networks, low-cost
computers and storage devices as well as the widespread adoption of hardware virtualization (mobile devices),
service-oriented architecture, and self-managing computing have led to a growth in cloud computing. Cloud
vendors have experienced growth rates of 50% per year.

The main enabling technology for cloud computing is virtualization. Virtualization software separates a physical
computing device into one or more “virtual” devices, each of which can be easily used and managed to perform
computing tasks. These devices include laptops, tablets, cell phones, desktops, etc.

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The best-known participants in the CRM market are software vendors. These CRM vendors compete to
provide robust, user-friendly applications in the areas of operational sales, marketing, and service, as
well as CRM analytics. We will be looking at the most popular categories of software vendors and their
products in this module.

Under the area of hardware and infrastructure, there are companies specializing in hardware such as
monitors, network hardware, security systems, wireless devices, mobile devices, cables, servers, etc.
Infrastructure mainly consists of telecommunications such as call center equipment, messaging, paging
services, telephone networks, and wireless systems. There are companies that help with data quality and
management and provide software that helps companies keep their data integrity and quality at 100%
levels.

Professional service providers (including consultancies) can consist of any of these:

• Application service providers
• Call center services & help desk support (to outsource to)
• Consultants specializing in different areas of CRM
• Training/education consultants
• Process reengineering consultants
• Software design
• Network management
• System integration

It’s important to keep in mind that not every company that embarks on a CRM strategy is going to use
all of these different service providers, or players in the marketplace. Every company is going to pick
and choose those that are required in order to implement their unique CRM strategy. It all depends on
the company’s objectives, the business processes and the kinds of resources that the company has within
their company. Some companies have a very robust technology department and may be able to handle all
of the hardware and systems integration or network management but there may be smaller companies
that don’t have those types of resources so they would go to a consultant that specializes in one of these
areas to help them implement their strategy.

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MODULE 8

©2021 Sarah Cherres

Let’s review some important definitions and terms related to the CRM market and the types of solutions provided
by various companies. These are according to CRM Magazine.

Analytics covers the process of extrapolating true business intelligence from disparate customer data sources in order
to segment, analyze, and serve the customer in the most efficient manner possible. Additionally, analytics also means
getting predictive data to empower businesses to identify how a customer is likely to respond to different sales and
marketing campaigns.

Big Data CRM encompasses strategies and technologies that capture, track, and manage valuable data from multiple
unstructured communication channels. Unlike structured data that resides in fixed fields within records or databases,
big data (or unstructured data) is more difficult to find and manage, as it is often high in volume, velocity, and
variety. Examples of where big data can be found include recorded phone conversations, email exchanges, chat
sessions, and social media interactions.

CRM Cloud solutions include any CRM applications or services that are available on demand via the Internet from a
cloud provider. Services are called SaaS (software as a service). As noted earlier, through the use of this delivery
model, users gain access to CRM software on the cloud providers’ servers, eliminating the need for client companies
to build and maintain …

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