In the fourth quarter of 2001, only 20 per cent of business-related service providers integrated software-based management tools, also known as customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, into their customer service strategies. In particular, companies in the branches of advertising and business consultancy as well as software service providers were more likely to deploy software packages for the purposes of customer relationship management.

These are the findings of an economic survey carried out amongst business-related service providers by the Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW), Mannheim, in collaboration with the “Verband der Vereine Creditreform”, Neuss, in December 2001. The survey is carried out on a quarterly basis among approximately 1,000 businesses in the following sectors: tax advisers and certified public accountants, business consultants, architects, technical planners, vehicle rental companies, machine rental companies, cargo handling and logistics firms, software providers, advertising agencies and waste management firms.

The turnover share of those companies which did integrated management solutions into their customer service strategies was highest amongst advertising agencies (50 per cent). Computer-aided management of customer relations seem to play a similarly important role among firms providing computer services and business consultancy. In these sectors, companies who make use of these management systems contributed to around 30 per cent of total revenue. In all the remaining sectors that provide business-related services, companies who implemented CRM solutions generated less than 20 per cent of the turnover for their respective sectors. Firms in the branches of tax consultancy and accounting as well as waste disposal and sanitation companies showed the weakest economic performance and produced less than 5 per cent of total revenue.

CRM systems allow businesses to organise, analyse and process customer-related data from various sources of customer information with the help of software tools, knowledge databases and IT infrastructure. On the basis of this data, CRM tools generate detailed profiles, which can then be used for targeted and individual customer contact management in sales and customer service. Due to the importance of customer service in the services sector, which is characterised by long-term customer-vendor relationships and close interactions with customers, it is to be expected that customer relationship management will come to play an increasingly important role for business-related service providers.

Contact

Dr. Margit Vanberg, E-mail:vanberg@zew.de

Date

17.01.2002

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