Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and field automation have experienced tremendous change over the last decade. The whole concept of CRM/SFA etc started in about 1991. The terms have become known for not only their amazing successes, but also for the more numerous and documented failures. An understanding of the history of CRM will help prevent future failures and allow you to experience success.
Beginning in the late 1980s, what began as Sales Force Automation and later evolved to what we think of today as CRM, began to develop as series of individual solutions for separate departments to help improve customer relations. This served to streamline the individual departments and increase their effectiveness, but it caused serious communication problems between the different sectors. Each department relied on its own tools and could not use another’s, which prevented an efficient way to share data.
The next step in CRM was the development of systems that connected each department. A variety of different software programs were developed to accomplish this goal. Now, sales, marketing, accounting, and other departments were able to share data easily and more effectively. This was in direct response toward a more customer driven marketplace.
However, CRM faced another obstacle. Although the process had become more efficient, that did not necessarily equate to more sales. Companies were forced to realize that no CRM project would turn good salespeople into excellent salespeople. The main lesson from CRM is that the people and the organization make or break it.
With a bright future ahead, CRM is now available to a wide range of customers – from the Fortune 500 Companies to the 20-person firm. New technology is once again increasing what CRM can offer.