A business discipline designed to identify, attract, and retain a company's most valuable customers. It describes improved and increased communication between a company and its customers. First espoused in the 1960's by management gurus Peter Drucker and Theodore Levitt, CRM is intended to provide a unified, company-wide view of the customer and to cultivate high-quality relationships that increase loyalty and profits. Basically, the idea is not to let an interaction with a customer escape a firm's centralized database. The focus is on learning more about customers and using that knowledge to refine every interaction with them.
Effective CRM requires an integrated sales, marketing, and service strategy, supported by CRM software that provides profiles and histories of each interaction the company has with each customer. When managers cull this data, it helps them evaluate their progress. A comprehensive CRM strategy can anticipate needs; tailor messages, products, and services; create value; anticipate problems; and improve the customer's overall experience in dealing with the company. Welcome to 21st century business.