The author wishes to thank Jack Sumner for contributing to this column.
The concept of customer relationship management (CRM) in theory is simple: Listen to your customers and act on what they are saying to create a mutually beneficial relationship. To a customer, this translates into understanding the terms by which they prefer to do business, making the product to an acceptable level of quality and doing it all at a competitive price. No problem, right? The challenge for companies is to understand what customers are asking for in order to respond to or, better yet, anticipate their needs. Today, companies with current implementations of CRM technology can usually hear their customers; however, because they are only focusing on the operational and collaborative components of CRM, they cannot really understand them. They must also consider analytical CRM to optimize their customer relationships.
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