In "An eagle eye on customers" (Special Report, Feb. 21), Steve Hamm and Robert Hof offer an interesting assessment of customer relationship management (CRM) as a rapidly emerging software category--one that is helping businesses compete in the New Economy by helping them understand and market to their customers.

However, CRM is about more than simply finding the best product solutions to meet a company's needs. Rather, CRM needs to be viewed as an all-encompassing business strategy--a customer-centric philosophy of doing business that affects every single consumer touchpoint.

Savvy business leaders will clearly recognize the full potential of CRM; they will incorporate a customer-centric CRM philosophy into the core of their business and use CRM strategies to create an integrated, corporatewide view of the customer. In doing so,

the most successful companies will empower themselves to attract, retain, and care for the ever-demanding consumer.

Deepak Sircar

Group Vice-President

eCRM Division

Reynolds & Reynolds Co.

Carrollton, Tex.

Your article on customer management and software is timely and informative. Better understanding of your customers is one key to success in the New Economy. Many companies, however, both Net-centric and old-line, continue to ignore the customer-service representatives and the work processes in the customer interaction center. The software you detailed is wonderful and has the potential to affect a business' success.

The full impact, though, can only be realized if there is first a complete rethinking of an organization's work processes. We have seen all too many companies investing in customer-relationship management software without first optimizing the organization. Remember, 75% to 80% of the cost in a customer interaction center is people-related. Before investing in CRM software, assess what you have today.

Gerald F. Giermak

President & Chief Operating Officer

Atlas Technology Group

Chicago

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