Customer relationship management or CRM refers to all of the processes that an organization makes use of to organize and track its contacts or relationships with prospective and current customers. Hence, CRM covers quite a wide array of activities, departments, and processes, from front desk or first line interactions to analytical and behind the scene procedures. These varied practices are sometimes tracked and monitored using so-called key performance indicators or KPI practices are sometimes tracked and monitored using so-called key performance indicators or KPIs. There will be a good variety of CRM KPI to consider, associated with the different aspects of the entire customer relationship management paradigm.
CRM can be more or less divided into four separate but interrelated aspects: front office operations, back office operations, business relationships, and analysis. Front office operations would refer to that part of the system involving dealing with customers directly, whether face to face or through the phone or the Internet. Back office operations, on the other hand, vary from business to business, and involve those processes necessary to provide the appropriate products or services to the customers. Business relationships, the next aspect of customer relationship management, involve, as the term implies, forming working relationships with other companies and organizations as opposed to clients or customers. That is, these would be the firms that a business finds itself working with, as a manufacturer would work with a distributor, and so on.
Key performance indicators refer to particular measurable quantities or metrics that serve as either the most relevant or most important signs of progress or performance in particular aspects. In practice, they are usually not chosen by themselves or out of nowhere. Instead, they form an integral part of a measurable, objective goal. For instance, such a goal may be Increase gross sales by 10% from 2008 to end of year 2009. The KPI in this case would be gross sales. Of course, this specific example would not be applicable or appropriate to all organizations. Other possible KPI’s could be net profit, customer satisfaction rate, return client percentage, employee turnover, and so on and so forth.
In customer relationship management, some performance metrics may be identified in general. Front office operations, for example, would want to process customers not only quickly, but also thoroughly. That is, not only average handling time or maximum customer capacity is important, but also customer satisfaction ratio and percent of cases fully resolved. For the back office and analysis aspects, on the other hand, other KPIs would be more relevant to consider, mostly relating to the speed and efficiency of information storage, processing, and analysis.
But, of course, CRM KPI would be useless without a solid strategic plan backing them up. It would not help much to measure an assortment of quantities if they are not integrated and considered as painting a whole picture of organizational performance. However, if they are used with the proper context and mindset, metrics and key performance indicators will be able to provide invaluable insight into often mis-estimated overall performance.