70's -80's; mainly a product centric era but the evolution of the customer relationship management started taking place.
90's; the CRM started becoming popular among the organizations.
21st century; advent of e-CRM and CRM is considered one of the most important tools in the success of a business.
Important milestones in the evolution of the CRM
In the early 90's, after the evolution of the CRM in the 70's and 80's, a lot of organizations stared to go back to the way the businesses were carried out in the pre-industrialized era, i.e. On the basis of the strong and direct relationships with the customers.
The introduction of internet also played a very important role in the popularity of the CRM among the organizations as with the advent of internet and the trend of deregulation the competition increased a lot and the organizations realized that the customers were their most important asset.
Customers were given importance and respect like they had never gotten in the past.
This trend of CRM increased further more in the 21st century with the advent of the e-CRM.
Explanation of the timeline
In the era of the 60's and 70's the most important thing for the companies used to be selling as much products as they can thus, they used to have a very product centric approach. However, this trend started to change in the late 70's when the evolution of the CRM started to take place. The reason for this change was the fact that the organizations started to realize the importance of their customers (Khera, 2010).
This trend of the popularity of CRM increased further more when in the 90's the internet became common and a lot of companies went online. It was during this time that the companies realized how important it was for them to have a strong customer base to survive in the ever increasing competition. As a result the customers were started given respect instead of the ignorant way in which they were treated before. Now, these customers didn't have to wait for an hour or so to get to talk to the customer service representative on the phone or they didn't have to stand in long lines to get their desired products (Khera, 2010).
Customers also started realizing their value and rights and because of the globalization and popularity of the internet they were now able to compare the prices, quality and other features of the products from different brands in order to choose the one that suited them the best. Realizing this change in trend the organizations also started to become more and more attentive to the average customers as, they realized that it was these customers who would help them the most in increasing their customer base, for this reason these organizations stared to give more importance to their average customers as compared to the business customers, their revenues, profits or the margins which never happened before (Khera, 2010).
At the end of the 20th century and the early 21st century a lot of online organizations or their online branches shut down, which made them realize the importance of their enterprise customers. In order to strengthen their relationships with these customers e-CRM was launched. The main purpose of e-CRM was to ensure that all the customers were catered to. However, the one problem regarding such applications was that since it catered to all the customers on equal levels the customers who wanted to have their needs individually catered were ignored as, these applications were automated (Khera, 2010).
In order to overcome this problem of the automated responses to all the customers the organizations came up with the customer information data bases. The internet played a very important role in making all this possible. In order to create all these data bases the organizations made use of all their departments such as; Contact-Center, Sales, Field-assistance, Marketing, Billing, Accounting and Distribution & Logistics. The reason for going to such extremes to accommodate the customers was the fact that all these companies now realized that in this ever increasing competitive environment they can only survive if they cater to not only the needs of the customers on the general basis but also on the individual basis. Thus, by collecting the data about their individual customers these organizations were not only able to know about the personal preferences of these customers but also make and present their products and offering in such a way that they would attract maximum number of customers. For this reason it is safe to say that the customer data base is the most significant fact of all in influencing the CRM in negative or positive way, depending on how the organization acquires, analyzes and reviews that data (Thomas et al. 2001).
For the purpose of collecting and making sure that the collected information is correct, now most of the organizations have the departments that are concerned with the information warehousing, information quality and information mining. The main purpose of the information warehouse is to collect and store the information about the customers, the purpose of the information quality is to make sure that the collected information is accurate whereas, finding the desired information from among the stored information is where the information mining comes in (Thomas et al. 2001).
The Sales Force Automation (SFA) tools are mainly responsible for initiating the CRM. Now-a-days there are a lot of tools available to the companies to improve their CRM such as Remedy, which is a tool that is used to track the problems. In today's world the areas on which most of the organizations pay most attention to are the marketing automation, customer support and field support and because of this increased importance being paid to these fields now there are many application tools available to increase the CRM in these departments. Now, even a lot of people from Enterprise Resource Planning are increasing their solutions to include the CRM as well because they, like many other organizations have realized the importance of CRM as it not only helps in increasing your customer base but also helps in solving the problems and taking precautionary measures to avoid them in the future (Khera, 2010).
Even with all this information available regarding CRM and its popularity it is still a concept that not many people are sure about. CRM is a strategy rather than just being an application or a tool that once used would make the problems regarding the customers go away. It is a strategy that works with the combination of policies, applications, people, processes and business contacts to help the organization in maximizing and increasing its customer base (Khera, 2010).
The enterprise customers today want the organizations to understand and know what they want, these customers not only want the best products but also the best treatment from the organizations that they are buying the products and services from and these customers want this relationship in the form of one-to-one interaction (Khera, 2010).
Right now there are approximately 200 vendors providing CRM software and this number is continuously increasing. Although there are a lot of applications regarding the CRM but the most important of all is the call-service and the others mainly help the vendors in understanding the CRM in a better way (Khera, 2010).
Initially these software were mainly concerned with providing the improved call services to the customers. However, now in addition to the call services there are Web-based self-service features available as well and what these features do is, they help the customers in getting their desired information when they log on to the web site. The customers can find out about their billing status, order status etc. (Khera, 2010).