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IM a "Key" in eCRM - Study

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Posted March 11, 2002 By Bob Woods     Feedback

As consumers are expecting faster responses to their online inquiries, instant messaging request management is a key element in eCRM, according to a new KANA survey

Want to generate more sales from an e-commerce site? Beef up your electronic customer relationship management (eCRM), according to a new survey by eCRM provider KANA .

Key findings of the survey include:

  • 56% of consumers said interactions over the Web or via e-mail represent their most positive customer experience
  • 33% of consumers indicated that slow response times are the key contributor to a negative experience
  • 20% of respondents decided not to purchase product as a result of slow response times.

The survey illustrates "the growing need for eCRM solutions that are highly flexible and scalable to meet ever-increasing consumer demands," KANA said. Key elements to help companies respond faster to their customers include fast, high-volume, intelligent and automated instant messaging, e-mail and Web request management, according to the company.

"Consumers are putting pressure on organizations to provide faster customer care across all points of contact, and those companies that can meet this demand have a real competitive advantage in the marketplace," said Bud Michael, executive vice president of products and marketing for KANA.

InstantMessagingPlanet notes that KANA has a vested interest in the survey's results, as it has its iCARE integrated eCRM suite. KANA itself conducted the survey, and asked 200 consumers for their opinions on a cross section purchases they've made in both online and offline environments. KANA said it wanted to find reactions to customer service independent of channel, including offline interaction, phone, e-mail, Web chat or online self-service.

A recent study by Jupiter Media Metrix -- cited by KANA -- said the number of companies responding in a timely manner to customer service e-mails hit an all-time low of 22%. Although on-line customers expect a response to their e-mail inquiry within 48 hours, very few companies within retail, travel and financial services were able to achieve this level of service, Jupiter added.

Meantime, one gets the sense that companies are pouring money into CRM applications they're not sure how to use. Research by Gartner found that 40% of enterprises that have already installed CRM solutions will rethink them, with an emphasis on balancing privacy with increasing pressure to support personalization.

"Adequately addressing privacy concerns will be a top business priority. This is going to require rethinking of how information is gathered, how customers can access and control that data and how enterprises can safeguard it from parties that might want it but shouldn't have it. Legislation will force this anyway, but in 2002, customers are increasingly going to be demanding it," said Scott Nelson, vice president and research area director for Gartner.

Gartner found that current economic conditions caused enterprises to scale back their CRM initiatives and shift their CRM projects' goals from revenue enhancement to cost reduction. Through 2002, Gartner expects there will be a return to tactical projects that will hurt the large suite vendors and breathe new life into the best-of-breed players, but only temporarily. In the end, enterprises will gravitate to the large suite solutions.

"One change in 2002 is that much-needed, large-scale CRM successes will begin to emerge. Many enterprises have very quietly overhauled their dealings with their customers, and in 2002, we will see their case studies come to market," Nelson said. "This will provide the validation this space requires, and in the end, maybe the most important event in CRM this year. As the big 'wins' emerge, the rest of the industry will gain the justification they need to sell this business strategy to skeptical management."

To this point, enterprises have focused mainly on the technology aspects of CRM, but Gartner analysts expect that in 2002, enterprises will worry more about how to ensure that the entire workforce can use these tools effectively, how to institutionalize best practices and how to export high levels of customer support to their extended enterprise, including partners and affiliates. Gartner also expects to see new vendors emerging in this area, offering both software and services to assist enterprises in handling this difficult problem.

Content from sister site CyberAtlas contributed to this article. Bob Woods is the managing editor of InstantMessagingPlanet.

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