SOURCE: Aberdeen Group

June 11, 2008 11:59 ET

CRM Customization Initiatives Improve Key Sales and Customer Metrics

Best-in-Class Companies Are 9 Times More Likely Than Laggards to Increase Market Share Through CRM Customization Initiatives

BOSTON, MA--(Marketwire - June 11, 2008) - Customizable applications and software developer kits allow for better information management and data collection; as a result, top organizations are using these technologies to customize and configure their core CRM solution to mirror unique business processes. In an increasingly competitive marketplace where companies are challenged to obtain a 360-degree view of the customer, businesses are customizing CRM solutions to integrate data from customer-facing groups, as well as increase the level of internal visibility into sales processes. A recent study, Tailor-Made CRM: Best Practices in Customization, Configuration, and Integration, conducted by the Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company (NYSE: HHS), revealed that Best-in-Class companies are 2.4 times more likely than Laggards to leverage a data integration solution to support CRM customization initiatives; the result is increased performance in data entry, data retrieval, and ease of maintenance.

The top two objectives of an organization's CRM customization initiative stem from the most fundamental of business drivers: to attain and keep customers. The need to improve customer retention (36%) and the need to improve customer acquisition (36%) were identified by all respondents as the top two objectives of a customization initiative. Best-in-Class companies indicated that they currently utilize data integration solutions (47%), contact management solutions (50%) and sales knowledge management solutions (38%) to increase the effectiveness and functionality of the core CRM solution. As a result of technology implementation and integration, Best-in-Class companies are more than 5 times as likely as Laggards to experience year-over-year improvement in customer retention levels.

"Today's busy consumer expects a heightened level of customer service. The result is a rapidly changing CRM landscape where the traditional sales-centric use of CRM solutions will be supplemented by a number of disparate data sources containing consumer information," explains Alex Jefferies, Senior Research Associate at Aberdeen. "The ability to customize the core CRM solution affords businesses the opportunity to directly weave their unique business processes with third party data sources. In doing so, companies enable sales representatives to have access to more than just the contact information of a current client or prospect," concludes Jefferies.

The report demonstrates the value of collectively leveraging organizational practices in process, performance measurement, knowledge management and technology to provide a foundation for CRM success. By combining processes for data sharing between customer-facing groups (47%) and dedicated CRM support resources (47%), Best-in-Class compaines are able to maximize the effectiveness of their sales force by customizing the CRM solution to match unique business processes.

The research educates readers about the value of CRM customization and configuration initiatives. The report also identifies Best-in-Class performance as a result of CRM customization compared to the Industry Average and Laggards and the difference in capabilities and technology use among maturity classes.

A complimentary copy of this report is made available due in part by the following underwriters: Bluewolf and SugarCRM. To obtain a complimentary copy of the report, visit: http://www.aberdeen.com/link/sponsor.asp?cid=4651.

About Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company

Aberdeen is a leading provider of fact-based research and market intelligence that delivers demonstrable results. Having benchmarked more than 30,000 companies in the past two years, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to educate users to action: driving market awareness, creating demand, enabling sales, and delivering meaningful return-on-investment analysis. As the trusted advisor to the global technology markets, corporations turn to AberdeenTM for insights that drive decisions.

As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targeted marketing company. Aberdeen's analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information - Opportunity - Insight - Engagement - Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates the strategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen http://www.aberdeen.com or call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to http://www.harte-hanks.com.

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