[From iSource Business, August 2001] The functionality of CRM software falls into three basic categories:
- Sales Force Automation This functionality is designed to make the sales team more efficient in its ability to manage the information and overall customer and prospect history. It puts a wide range of information at the sales team's fingertips but, more importantly, it centralizes the information. The sales rep and the service rep see the same profile of the customer. Information about customers is no longer fragmented in isolated pockets through the enterprise.
- Customer Interaction The automation of customer interaction goes across the entire lifecycle of the customer, from lead through sale, on to order and service contract. If a customer contacts the enterprise at any point, the full customer history will be available. The customer can reach the enterprise via Internet or call center to see the status of orders, service, billing or contract.
- Customer Knowledge Customer knowledge is the heartbeat of CRM. Sometimes called customer optimization or analytics, this functionality allows the enterprise to analyze the customer relationship. What customers are most profitable? What product lines are most profitable? What customers take the heaviest toll on the company's resources? Ultimately, this territory of CRM will help companies design products and services to meet the needs of preferred customers. This functionality also promises to help companies improve their customer retention and increase both cross-selling and up-selling.