ClientLogic threads continuity into CRM net

ClientLogic's Continuity Program aims to help businesses keep customers close at hand -- a recurring theme, if you will.

Betting on the concept that consumers enjoy having products sent to them by companies they've previously done business with, software maker ClientLogic Corp. has launched its Continuity Program to help businesses keep customers close at hand.

Think Time Life Inc. If you've ever had a book or CD delivered from the ubiquitous mail order company you know there's probably another one coming not too far behind. In terms of customer retention, you'd be hard put to find a more aggressive tactic than this practice of keeping the stream of products between vendor and customer flowing. Enter Nashville, Tenn.-based ClientLogic.

The customer management software provider recently released its continuity offering that essentially serves as an additional distribution channel for businesses, based on the concept of recurring fulfillment.

"What we're talking about are CRM-based marketing services," said Channing Rollo, manager of solutions planning at ClientLogic. "The bulk of any business is grounded in the art of customer contact and delivered directly through fulfillment. The basic continuity idea is to build a deeper relationship with customers using CRM to power those identification and delivery services that are also linked closely together."

The basic thinking behind the strategy is that if Pepsi were delivered to your home or business every week, you'd be far less likely to ever consider buying Coke. The Continuity Program is also meant to provide some level of guarantee or reliability in terms of growing revenue streams. ClientLogic goes so far as to claim that utilizing recurring fulfillment can make businesses more immune to price wars and competition.

"This is particularly interesting to companies in times like the present when it is absolutely essential to retain the customers you already have," said Rollo. "You know that you've got a customer who has ordered a certain kind of product, the likelihood is that they'll be receptive to more products along the same lines."

Looking for best customers

One of the companies ClientLogic has already signed on to deploy Continuity Program is New York-based DDM Press, a Dennis Publishing subsidiary and direct-order book publisher. The company is probably best known as the book-publishing arm of Maxim, the popular men's lifestyle magazine.

"We started out last year doing one-shot sales, basically just getting the organization started," said Steven Kotok, publisher for DDM Press. "However, this kind of transaction provides only a one-time revenue opportunity. For us, continuity planning should start driving more long-term revenues and will also help us build customers lists and figure out who our best customers truly are."

Kotok said he chose ClientLogic largely out of the simplicity of deploying its turnkey application. Under the program, DDM asks its existing customers to preview new books and, once they've agreed, begins delivering goods on a regular schedule. The application also meshes with DDM's CRM infrastructure to garner client information and promote products to suitable customers through e-mail, phone calls, direct mailings and the Internet. In turn it can also monitor payment and overdue status for customers participating in the program.

For DDM, the smaller level of investment involved in deploying the application was a welcome alternative to other options available in the CRM space.

"There's an immediate, direct return," Kotok said. "The capital investment isn't spread out vaguely and we couldn't afford to wait and see what some other high-level application may or may not do for us. Continuity is a way to improve our CRM rapidly without making another major capital investment."

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