Early engagement of key partners and effective communication for change management are crucial to successful completion of customer relationship management efforts, an executive leading Dow Chemical Co.’s customer interface initiative says.

Dow began the initiative two years ago and is achieving success with the effort which is its second CRM attempt after an earlier effort failed a few years ago, says Mack Murrell, Midland, Mich.-based Dow’s global director of customer interface.

Murrell reviewed the initiative’s progress and its status as a critical element in a strategy aimed at doubling the 105-year old chemical company’s annual revenues to $60 billion by 2010 in a keynote speech Thursday to DCI’s Customer Relationship Management Conference and Exposition in Chicago.

“The information technology industry is full of hype,” Murrell says. “This isn’t about IT. We should agree to that. It’s important to engage key partners early.”

Dow is using what Murrell describes as a “holistic approach” to CRM by working with customers through Web interaction, sales administration, inquiry response, customer service and order management, telephone tech support, telephone sales, field tech support and field sales.

Elements of the Dow initiative also include a centralized data warehouse, an enterprise resource planning system from SAP AG, software for CRM from Siebel Systems Inc. and new technology interface points that include MyAccount@Dow, Dow.com, industry e-marketplaces and company-wide integrated desktops and voice over Internet protocol plans.

The first year of the renewed CRM program resulted in a 90% reduction of defects in Dow’s 1.2 million shipments, Murrell says.

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