CRM (customer relationship management)

What is CRM (customer relationship management)?
CRM (customer relationship management) is an information industry term for methodologies, software, and usually Internet capabilities that help an enterprise manage customer relationships in an organized way. For example, an enterprise might build a database about its customers that described relationships in sufficient detail so that management, salespeople, people providing service, and perhaps the customer directly could access information, match customer needs with product plans and offerings, remind customers of service requirements, know what other products a customer had purchased, and so forth.

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According to one industry view, CRM consists of:

  • Helping an enterprise to enable its marketing departments to identify and target their best customers, manage marketing campaigns and generate quality leads for the sales team.
  • Assisting the organization to improve telesales, account, and sales management by optimizing information shared by multiple employees, and streamlining existing processes (for example, taking orders using mobile devices)
  • Allowing the formation of individualized relationships with customers, with the aim of improving customer satisfaction and maximizing profits; identifying the most profitable customers and providing them the highest level of service.
  • Providing employees with the information and processes necessary to know their customers, understand and identify customer needs and effectively build relationships between the company, its customer base, and distribution partners.

Many organizations turn to CRM software to help them manage their customer relationships. CRM technology is offered on-premise, on-demand or through Software as a Service

(SaaS) CRM, depending on the vendor. Recently, mobile CRM and the open source CRM software model have also become more popular.

Contributor(s): Eric Williams
This was last updated in November 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse
View the next item in this Essential Guide: social CRM or view the full guide: Guide to customer experience management best practices, technologies

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