CRM one of the most important issues for businesses in 2012

    KPMG's Succeeding in a Changing World Business Leaders Survey 2012 found that 73 percent of retailers believe that customer relationship management investments will be vital to their success this year. The survey polled about 3,000 business leaders, 136 of which were in retail. Overall, 18 percent of respondents stated that their company is focusing on adapting to the changing needs of its customers and stakeholders, including 31 percent of the retailers polled.

    Additionally, 43 percent of all respondents and 57 percent of retailers polled said they will have to completely change business operations in order to become more cost effective. This may mean implementing new, more effective technology, or changing basic operational processes, such as the way a contact center agent connects with a caller. Many of those polled cited the current low economic growth as reasons for these changes.

    The importance of successful CRM is two-sided. On one hand, companies will be able to better serve their customers and increase customer satisfaction and sales. On the other hand, this requires a great deal of information to be stored about consumers, including individual data. This high level of information dealing means many businesses will have to increase storage security and training of call center agents. However, this is a necessary risk, according to Helen Dickinson, head of retail at KPMG.

    "Without the data, retailers are unable to understand consumer trends and to customise their offerings," Dickinson said. "They now need to market not to groups of people with similar needs, but to individuals. Effective CRM is a cost and risk worth taking."

    CRM technology can ultimately save a business IT costs by making this data gathering easier and faster, and ultimately end in increased revenue, so the benefits do outweigh any initial costs. However, companies have to invest in both the technology and the training for their employees to take advantage of it. According to Dickinson, the customer's journey, or experience, is typically complex Implementing a CRM solution that can serve both the multi-faceted, personal needs of the customer and still help businesses analyze that journey quickly and efficiently will be key to overcoming the low growth environment that many of the poll respondents cited.

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