WorldGroup Consulting has launched a customer relationship management (CRM) capability assessment service to help companies understand their current level of CRM maturity.
The Sydney-based IT solutions consultancy has been developing a CRM measurement methodology since December 2000, WorldGroup Consulting senior CRM consultant, Andy Zaple told Computerworld.
According to Zaple, the service evaluates the way an organisation identifies and attracts its customers, and its ability to retain the client.
"CRM means something different to everybody - putting in an interactive response system or a dirty, big data warehouse - and our service helps a company understand where they sit in the CRM maturity continuum," he said.
Under WorldGroup's five-stage maturity assessment model, clients' CRM readiness is classified as being at a simple, tactical, organised, ready or mature stage.
From assessment level, WorldGroup works with business and IT managers in a company to produce a common definition of CRM, then identify the steps they need to align business processes with business goals to prepare for a CRM implementation.
And WorldGroup executives agree that companies can develop an effective solution provided they've focused on a mix of business strategy, business process, operations, human resources and technology.
Most customers trialing the service are generally at 'stage two' of CRM sophistication - which Zaple defines as a focus on individual customer development - and with plans to move further up the chain to customer analytics and retention.
Zaple expects strongest takeup to come from customer-oriented industry sectors like blue-chip financial services, telecommunications and retail.
Typical users also have CRM budgets ranging from $100,000 to $20 million, Zaple said.
Internet service provider Peakhour is an early adopter of the service and the company's chief of infrastructure and operations architecture, Megan Clarken said the ISP was identified as being in an "organised" state as it operated a customer contact centre.
"As a service organisation, CRM is a major strategy for us," Clarken said. "To enable us to understand our customers as our business grows is crucial to us."
Clarken said the road to implementing its Onyx CRM system (used for customer management and Peakhour's MIS system) in February 2000 would have been difficult without drawing on the assessment capability service beforehand.
"The beauty of the methodology is that it helped with our implementation by defining what our business processes should be, and also put us in a good position on the [CRM] maturity chain, " Clarken said.
"Having an external tool that comes in and assesses where we're at in CRM is useful. WorldGroup helped implement our solution which has allowed us to meet our customer expectations, and we're now prepared to be a mature organisation."
Clarken added that without an "external check" on CRM readiness and effectiveness, companies run the risk of thinking a CRM system will look after itself.
"Having a CRM strategy and then understanding where your organisation fits in the maturity chain, is becoming much more recognised among CIOs."