Last year, Aberdeen Group published a report titled, What's Next in CRM: The Learning Relationship. Our title was derived from an idea in a 1995 Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, "Do You Want To Keep Your Customers Forever?" in which the authors – Don Peppers, Martha Rogers and B. Joseph Pine II – ­observed that keeping customers long enough to gain the benefits of repeat business required more than properly executing the transaction immediately at hand.

Keeping customers forever, or at least for a long time, requires building a relationship in which the vendor and customer gain something beyond the value of the goods and services traded. Insuring that kind of win/win scenario requires that the vendor have a deeper understanding of the customer ­ in other words, a "total customer view." Without the enhanced relationship, which a total customer view provides, customers have no reason to exhibit loyalty and decisions are made primarily on price. This article discusses some of the reasons total customer view (TCV) is important and what customer relationship management (CRM) systems can do to assist enterprises seeking to achieve TCV.

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