CRM is not just implementing expensive software, although a quick Google search of CRM will bring up a whole host of expensive CRM platforms ranging from Salesforce.com to Oracle to Alterian etc. I have worked previously with an organisation who spent close to £1m on a software solution, but then realised they didn't have the marketers needed to get the best from the platform.
This is a typical example of CRM project coming out of an IT Strategy rather than a Customer Strategy. Many companies fall into this trap and implement CRM 'technologies' to aid in their quest for a 'single customer view', but Gartner suggests that over 55% of these projects fail
So what is CRM?
Ultimately it is about getting close to the customer and gaining engagement at all the possible touchpoints where a consumer comes across the brand. These touchpoints happen during the various phases of the Purchase Lifecycle from Awareness, through to Consideration, Purchase, Ownership and Repurchase.
Engagement is really about having the right conversation...and the right conversation is all about the right Content at the Right Time, delivered by the most appropriate vehicle. Now of course good software allows you hold all this content and can be used to deliver it via the right channel at a time when the consumer is the most receptive, but it needs the Customer Strategy behind it to be most effective.
Strategy is a combination of Logic and Interpretation. Computers can follow rules, but only people can interpret value, based on sound judgement and experience. The data might tell me that refining the segmentation and using the most responsive creative has reduced my ROI, but gut instinct will tell me that something else has played a part in this spurious outcome, whether that be timing or something else happening in the market.
CRM isn't run by the MI department but by the Marketing Department. The MI will tell you that you shouldn't contact lapsed customers, because well...they're lapsed. Marketing judgment presents the notion that there might be a reason as to why they are lapsed..maybe that particular segment don't buy your product as regularly as others so it might be worth pursuing them in a different way.
CRM software gives the impression that Lights Out Marketing ( everything is automated and doesn't need anyone about) is the Nirvana we all seek. Personally, I think its better to get into CRM with the lights on and my eyes wide open