Working with clients everyday, I try to always ask how they are doing with Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Here's a description from Wikipedia:
Customer relationship management (*CRM*) consists of the processes a company uses to track and organize its contacts with its urrent and prospective customers. CRM software is used to support these processes; the software system can be accessed, and information about customers and customer interactions can be entered, stored and accessed by employees in different company departments. ypical CRM goals are to improve services provided to customers, and to use customer contact information for targeted marketing. While the term CRM generally refers to a software-based approach to handling customer relationships, most CRM software vendors tress that a successful CRM effort requires a holistic approach. CRM initiatives often fail because implementation was limited to software installation, without providing the context, support and understanding for employees to learn, and take full advantage of the information systems.
It's amazing how much insight you can gain from a free source like Wikipedia. Included in the initial entry is why most CRM initiatives fail. That really points us to an opportunity that can make a difference to the bottom line. Many times a company has already invested in the software package, it's just not being fully used. 2009 is a great opportunity to review your CRM approach and take full advantage of every opportunity.