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CRM: Starting to Live Up to Its Promise

What's actually happening is people are finally starting to figure it out.

What's actually happening is people are finally starting to figure it out. They're starting to figure out how CRM should work," says Jaime Punishill, senior analyst, Forrester Research.

Punishill - who made the comments at a CRM and Wealth Management forum hosted by WS&T - tells the attendees they should be wary of so-called "CRM" projects, noting that CRM is often so broad that it lacks definition.

"If you can't define it, how can you assess it?" Punishill asks. He jokes, "No one knows what it is, but we know we have to have it." Supporting that notion, he adds that despite the number of failed projects, spending on CRM continues unabated, with 20 percent more brokerages in 2003 spending money on CRM than last year.

The main problem with CRM is that these endeavors have had ill-defined project goals, expectations and measurements. In addition, many projects have resulted in technological change without process change, Punishill adds.

However, Punishill says, times are changing. Why?

Firms are grasping that;

* CRM is not an end but a means.

* CRM does not define the project, it is a core component of a bigger effort.

* And finally, "The process dog is starting to way the technology tail."

One area that financial-services firms have to work on, he says, is using CRM to offer better cross-channel interaction, in other words - collaborative advice.

Forrester Research found that the number of times a client speaks to an advisor correlates to the perceived value of that advisor, which then correlates to the fees the advisor receives.

However, more wealth managers are pushing their Web channels without creating a collaborative environment, which undermines the advisor-client relationships, he adds.

If wealth managers can get this right, "CRM can fuel additional, more complex interactions," Punishill says. It will also enables firms to deliver the cross-channel experience clients expect, he adds.

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