Book Reviews

Recommended CRM Books

I recommend the following books only because they align with some of the ideas that I used in my CRM and lead management practice. Click on the images to order from Amazon.

CRM Book Review by Ash Nallawalla

Customer Relationship Management: Getting It Right
by Judith W. Kincaid
Published by HP Books and Prentice Hall PTR
ISBN: 0-13-035211-X

This is the type of book all CRM practitioners would love to write, except that author Judith W. Kincaid has done it - and with finesse. Only a practising CRM manager who has been through an implementation will understand what I mean after reading this book. There are so many articles and books out there that bear no resemblance to one's own experiences in the trenches. Those authors appear to have sat in an ivory tower while composing their compelling arguments, but you are often left wondering if they have personally tested their theories. In fairness, some of those experts are describing only one piece of the jigsaw puzzle, whereas you, the practitioner, are left with the realities around you. You have to "get it right", which is how Kincaid has aptly pitched the book.

Here is the structure of the book:

Part 1 - CRM: Is It Right for Your Company?

  • Chapter 1 Commerce in the 21st Century
  • Chapter 2 The Case for Customer Relationship Management
  • Chapter 3 What Is CRM?
  • Chapter 4 e-CRM—What’s the Difference?

Part 2 - CRM: Planning it Right

  • Chapter 5 Understanding the Method
  • Chapter 6 Get Ready: Avoiding Common Barriers
  • Chapter 7 Get Set: Organizing for Success
  • Chapter 8 Go! Developing Your CRM Strategy
  • Chapter 9 Launching a Project

Part 3 - CRM: Building It Right

  • Chapter 10 Building Infrastructure Components
  • Chapter 11 Understanding the Information Component
  • Chapter 12 Understanding the Process Component
  • Chapter 13 Understanding the Technology Component
  • Chapter 14 Understanding the People Component
  • Chapter 15 Managing the Project

Part 4 - CRM: Using It Right

  • Chapter 16 Integrating Components
  • Chapter 17 Finding the "Right" Customers
  • Chapter 18 Delivering the Customer Offer
  • Chapter 19 Evaluating Project Results

Part 5 - CRM: Keeping It Right

  • Chapter 20 Managing Quality Information As a Company Asset
  • Chapter 21 Designing Quality Systems for a Competitive Advantage
  • Chapter 22 Customer Privacy: Seize Your Opportunity
  • Chapter 23 CRM: You Got It, Right?

Appendix A Glossary of Terms
Appendix B Tools and Templates
Appendix C Self-Assessments
Appendix D Information: The Raw Material of CRM

The term "CRM" has a limited meaning for people who are not CRM managers. For example, you would be forgiven if you thought that it is some expensive software requiring teams of sweatshop IT developers. Some might focus on the 360-degree customer view or lifetime value. Although these are valid and important components, the CRM manager has the rest of the picture to deal with. Such realities include company structure, politics, top-down support, inter-departmental understanding and cooperation, funding, and so on. Kincaid covers all of them, as shown in the table of contents above.

The CRM manager is not the only omniscient person in the company who feels that others don't understand the breadth and depth of the subject. The IT manager, for example, has many other challenges on her plate, in addition to the CRM project. Kincaid addresses such topics with balance, giving all company participants the opportunity to see their own problems in perspective. There are numerous organisation charts in the book that serve to illustrate the relative positions of key people or processes.

One of my bugbears has been the issue of data quality. We all know that people move, die, change employers, and so on. Some people do not fill out forms fully, or paper forms are keyed in incorrectly, leaving an incomplete jigsaw puzzle for the CRM manager. Bad data has a tendency to become expensive for the company, so one has to develop strategies to minimise and eradicate it at an early stage. Kincaid goes one step further, for example, and calls for system quality as well. Makes sense, after all: without the latter you would be pushing the proverbial uphill.

Kincaid's background as a Director of CRM Services at Hewlett-Packard shows, for example, when she discusses "Think Global, Act Local" and refers to the challenge for a US-headquartered company to address a global customer base. She advises the creation of a central customer information management organisation for the complete customer database.

The book contains copious tables, checklists, illustrations and cartoons, which make the book easy to skim through before settling down to reading it from cover to cover or to jump to a specific topic. The tables contain sample text, so that you are not left guessing what type of content might go in them. Each chapter ends with some Questions for Reflection, such as:

  • System maintenance should be a business fundamental, but is it?
  • Have you ever been a customer on your own web site? How do you rate the experience?
  • Does the IT department think the business users haven't got a clue about what they want, much less what they need?

This book belongs on the bookshelves of all CRM managers and business executives who need to solve real-world CRM issues. There is a good deal of practical advice, direction and structure that will get your project rolling in the right direction.

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