If companies need a sobering statistic to give interactive customer relationship management a try, here it is: U.S. businesses lose one-half of their customers every five years. "The facts are in and companies need to keep their customers," Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM Inc., told attendees during his event chair address June 20 at DCI’s Data Warehousing Conference & Exposition in Boston. With a CRM initiative in place, companies can see a positive return on their investment in about a year. But an eCRM system must be well-planned and implemented. For instance, the data warehousing portion of the system must include:

"CRM is a comprehensive approach that provides seamless coordination between all customer-facing functions," Goldenberg says. "CRM increasingly leverages the Internet." When building their initial CRM platform and linking it to information management systems, Goldenberg advises companies to look carefully at defining their business intelligence and data sharing strategies. A good business intelligence platform should include fixed and ad-hoc reporting, extensive and easy-to-use reporting, dashboards and personalized portals. Likewise, Goldenberg says, data sharing tools should be synchronized with wired/wireless data sources, include links to the Internet and external information and be integrated with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and other internal systems. "The value proposition of CRM is enhanced productivity, lower costs and better customer satisfaction," Goldenberg says.

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