Even if companies are investing big time in CRM, for now they only see limited impact on the bottom-line. At least, that is what AT&T says, based upon research the Intelligence Unit of The Economist conducted.

Overall, 29% of the 237 respondents (top management), say they are satisfied with their current CRM system. According to over half of all respondents the CRM solutions they implemented don’t achieve the necessary ROI.

Whether that’s a question of the solutions or how they are used (or anything in-between) is something else of course. Despite these rather disappointing numbers, the surveyed managers continue to believe and invest in CRM. This way, they want to streamline their marketing campaigns and increase the efficiency of their sales operations and profitability of their customer portfolios. In the meantime and as the report indicates, most don’t see these improvements yet.

Both CRM vendors and users need to step up their efforts

Among the classical complaints regarding CRM solutions (vendors, pay attention) are the lack of efficient instruments for measurement and analysis, and the fact that CRM is too much dominated by IT. According to respondents, the dominating position of IT within CRM results in a gap between what is offered to the users of the CRM and their expectations, which of course can be very diverse, depending on the function of the user (sales, marketing, customer service, etc).

It’s fair to say companies are often responsible themselves for the underperforming results of CRM projects. All too often, CRM implementations aren’t properly supported by management and don’t take into account often crucial changes required in the corporate culture, as well as change management.

It’s essential that both vendors and users tackle these challenges. Technology alone is never enough, especially when it concerns essential business functions and of course the (changing) customer.

New ways to interact with the customer online drive CRM evolutions

Knowing that, with the evolutions in digital communication technologies, customers dispose of more touchpoints to interact with organizations, the interest in CRM remains high.

Businesses are looking at new ways to enable interactions with their customers, beyond traditional channels. The survey for instance also found that half of responding managers intend to use video links and web chat/messaging within two years in order to connect with customers.

And that’s of course good news for AT&T, the sponsor of the research. More about that in the press release, announcing the research and report.

This article was originally written in Dutch by the author, who translated it as part of an ongoing content integration project.