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What Is CRM 2.0?

The CRM Solution of the Future
As the Internet continues to serve as the preferred and most widely-used communication vehicle for customers and businesses alike, and more and more social networking mediums rise to prominence, the concept of customer relationship management (CRM) 2.0 is emerging at a rapid pace. The goal of CRM 2.0 is to facilitate more open, collaborative, and mutually advantageous relationships between product and service providers, and the people they sell to.

Exactly what CRM 2.0 is, and what it means to today’s organizations, remains a bit unclear. Some define it as a way to use the Internet to enhance traditional, one-dimensional interactions between companies and their existing and potential customers by giving clients greater control over how they communicate with the firms they do business with and providing them with the tools needed to form the foundation of the relationship.

Others will say that it’s a blend of methodologies, processes, and technologies that create a culture that is beneficial to both company and client.

And certain industry pundits have even gone as far as to say that CRM 2.0 enables a completely unhindered flow of information that gives customers and businesses the opportunity to work in close concert to develop new offerings, or better use existing ones.

Even the kind of tools that are needed to support the development and implementation of CRM 2.0 strategies is being debated. Many experts believe that the majority of today’s CRM vendors lack the needed vision when it comes to CRM 2.0, and that the current tools on the market simply don’t have the required capabilities to effectively enable it.

Other have said that, in order to truly facilitate a successful CRM 2.0 initiative, technology solutions must provide a fully centralized customer database that pulls from multiple data sources (including customer transaction systems and Web 2.0 vehicles), and allows for real-time access to that information for anyone who interacts with those clients.

But, while the “buzz” around CRM 2.0 is strong (and growing), most companies have been rather slow to embrace it. This is likely due to a lack of a clear definition and understanding of what CRM 2.0 really is, and what it entails.

A survey of members of “The Customer Collective”, a popular forum for sales and marketing executives, shows that 83 percent of respondents realized that social networking, or Web 2.0, was impacting their business, but less than half of those polled were actually utilizing tools like blogs, wikis, or social media services.

As the concepts behind CRM 2.0 become clearer, and the enabling solutions become more readily available, more and more companies will need to seriously consider this approach when it comes to managing customer experiences.

According to Paul Greenberg, a noted CRM expert, “this means that the company recognizes the validity of the control that customers have over their own business decisions (and thus, to some extent, the company’s business decisions.” This, in turn, will encourage them to find ways to engage customers and work closely with them on a variety of issues, problems, strategies, and objectives.