Web resources

The term CRM gets bandied about quite freely these days. But even if you know that it means customer relationship management, you'll probably want a better grasp of the concept before sinking millions into a CRM strategy. Following are some Web resources to helpPERSONALIZATION.COM If your company is even thinking about engaging in e-commerce with living, breathing customers, you should bookmark this site. Yeah, it's underwritten by a vendor (Net Perceptions), but it offers a comprehensive collection of relatively hype-free thinking about personalisation on the Web. The site is refreshingly devoid of typical marketing-speak, thanks undoubtedly to the editorship of Christopher Locke, who coauthored The Cluetrain Manifesto, a Web site-turned-book that blasts companies for treating customers like so many unthinking sheep.

The site includes a glossary and a good FAQ page, Soapbox with columns, vendor white papers, online forums and links to CRM analysts.

Unlike many fly-by-night CRM sites, this one has depth and breadth. www.personalization.comRETAILINDUSTRY.ABOUT.COM For help finding truly useful information amid all the CRM propaganda, bookmark About.com's Loyalty and CRM page (which you'll find in the subject listing on the site's Retail Industry page). Pre-screened articles are organised by topic (customer data mining, customer equity, customer relationships, privacy and etiquette, to name a few). You'll also find a comprehensive vendor directory with one liners that decode the marketing gibberish to plain English to tell you what each vendor does. www.retailindustry.about.comwww.relationship-marketing.com CRMGURU.COM This site promises "Real CRM gurus. Real answers". Sure, you can pose your CRM queries to the site's eight so-called gurus and get answers. But let the surfer beware: these people are not above promoting their consulting wares when they craft their replies. If you don't mind the marketing, you can partake of the gurus' collected wisdom by subscribing to the site's free e-mail digest of each week's most interesting questions and answers.www.crmguru.comCRM FORUM Also worth visiting: The CRM Forum, run by an independent organisation in the UK. Click on "documents by type" in the banner at the top of the page to get to a list of real-world CRM case studies. If your time is limited, you can get brief overviews to home in on the most relevant case studies. A case study of Skandia, for example, includes discussions of call centres, customer retention and sales-force automation. The site also includes presentations, articles, conference papers, academic contributions and vendor papers.

A place to keep up to date with CRM developments and to discuss CRM-related issues. Resources include a diary of events, library, 'yellow pages' directory of related sites, and a Talkshop bulletin board. www.crm-forum.comCRM ASSIST The ITToolbox CRMAssist site focuses on Siebel, Clarify, Oracle, Sales Force Automation, eMarketing, ERM and other CRM solutions. Features include technical discussions, news bulletins and a weekly chart on CRM stocks.* www.crmassist.comCRM COMMUNITY This site provides news bulletins, feature articles, white papers and online chat with vendors and CRM experts. *www.crmcommunity.comCALL CENTRE OPS CallCenterOps.com lists magazines, newsletters, associations, and research. A technology section includes case studies and reviews. The site also offers a discussion forum and an online newsletter. *www.callcenterops.comHELP DESK INSTITUTEContent is mainly focused on help desk, customer satisfaction and service-level issues. Its community resource offers live chat sessions, discussion forums and membership. The site also features a 'toolbox' that provides a glossary of help desk terms, FAQs and free downloads including presentations used at CRM industry conferences. *www.helpdeskinst.comLOTUSPart of the Lotus Web site is dedicated to CRM solutions. Highly recommended is the White Paper "Driving Business Value Through eCollaboration". Also on this site are case stories and ROI studies.

The IBM CRM Web site is also linked: www.ibm.com/crm. www.lotus.com/crmCALL CENTRESFor callcentres.net, Sydney-based ACA Research assembles information, products and services relevant to the industry.www.callcentres.net Emagine InternationalThe emagine Web site has a Market Buzz section that includes industry-related articles and papers from international conferences.www.emagine-int.comBRINTThis site offers sections on CRM, e-commerce and knowledge management as well as useful links to other sites. It is not very well known down-under but is an invaluable source of information.www.brint.com* These descriptions used with permission from Murielle Paviet-Fanolliet, who writes for the Australian Computer Society's (NSW) ACS Newsletter.

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