Customer relationship management is not just a business approach that integrates people, processes and technology to maximize relationships with all customers. It's also increasingly about leveraging the Internet, Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM Inc., told attendees Aug. 28 during his keynote session at the DCI Customer Relationship Management Conference & Exposition in New York. Twenty years ago, CRM was just about understanding supply chain and office computer systems, but now the focus is on "e-customer" applications such as e- commerce, intelligent routing/click stream monitoring, content management, personalization and customer self-service/cross-selling. "CRM is not just a 'nice to have' any more, it’s a 'need to have,'" Goldenberg told attendees. "Any company that is not becoming competent in CRM is a dinosaur and will be left behind." According to Goldenberg, a well-defined and executed corporate CRM plan should include:

"CRM is a business imperative," Goldenberg said. "U.S. corporations now lose half their customers every five years." To implement CRM correctly, companies should follow an eight- step plan that is based on solid implementation, project management, integrated and customized systems and adequate support. "The components of CRM are people, process and technology," he noted. "The technology component is the most overwhelming, given the ever- expanding number of technology offerings and alternatives."

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