Wednesday, April 17, 2002

ISO 9001 & CRM. Mike's is preparing an entry about the ISO 9001:2000 requirement to manage and measure customer requirements. This requirement, as he will show, will make attaining (or maintaining) certification a challenge. At some point customer relationship management is going to become a hot topic. The best book on the topic that I've found is Jill Dyché's The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management.

This book is thorough, clear and filled with useful information. It's organized in two parts. Part 1 defines CRM in chapter 1 and in the next six chapters covers the reasons and issues for implementing CRM from five perspectives: (1) Marketing, (2) Customer Service/Call Centers, (3) Sales Force Automation, (4) E-business and (5) Data Analysis. The case studies, all based on real clients and situations, add life to the well written chapters on marketing, customer service and sales force automation. In addition each chapter contains nuggets of insight, clear discussion of the topic and numerous checklists and tables that you can use for your own projects.

Part 2 covers delivering CRM and is structured in the logical sequence of planning, tool selection and CRM project management. Like the first part of the book the four chapters in Part 2 contain case studies, checklists and excellent advice. It is in this part of the book where you'll benefit from Jill's experience because she reveals common traps and pitfalls, and gives advice on how to deal with them or bypass them altogether.

What I like about this book is that it covers the business and technical parameters, requirements and issues. Jill's writing style makes it not only readable, but engrossing as well. She goes into considerable detail about how and why CRM is important to meeting business requirements and gives business metrics, explains differences between CRM and business intelligence, and the pro's and con's of all issues and factors. Because she covers the subject from the five perspectives I listed above this book is valuable to all possible stakeholders in a CRM project. I especially liked her use of the Porter value chain and how she leads you through the development of a business case for CRM.

If you're involved in CRM, or are in a company that is implementing ISO9001:2000 (which requires that organizations have an effective method of measuring customer satisfaction to achieve ISO certification), then this book will be your most valuable source of information.

The Dark Side of CRM. It's ironic that after finishing Jill's The CRM Handbook that the next book I pick up is World Without Secrets. This book is chilling for a number of reasons, but the top ones (in my opinion) are:

What I like is the way the author thoroughly and systematically addresses the threats to our privacy, freedom and well being. The discussion in "Rise of the Mentat", aside from catering to fans of Frank Herbert's Sci-Fi masterpiece, Dune, will open your eyes about how information is processed and fed to us. After reading this chapter you'll wonder how much you really know, and how much of what you think you know is based on all available facts and data.

However, the real eye-opener is the way that virtual communities are coming together in ways that could not have been predicted ten years ago. The Internet has enabled people of like interests, both benevolent and malevolent, to find one another on this planet, band together and begin exerting influence. In the same manner that maps drawn with political borders do not display cultural borders, these groups called "Network Armies" in the book go beyond cultural or national interests and are changing our social fabric in ways that the author only touches upon.

This book is well written, filled with examples and facts, and arrives at thought-provoking conclusions. It does not matter if you work in IT or another technology-focused industry, law, business or non-profit organizations, what this book has to say and the facts and conclusions that are presented are important. If the author is correct (and I think he is), our lives are changing in dramatic ways and this book is a rough roadmap to where we're headed.

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