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July 02, 2002
Accenture Survey Finds Senior Management Support Crucial to CRM Success

NEW YORK; July 2, 2002While business executives overwhelmingly agree that technology has helped them strengthen relationships with their customers, more than half (55 percent) say that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) shortfalls can be attributed in part to inadequate support from top management, according to a survey released today by Accenture.

The survey’s findings are consistent with Accenture’s opinion that despite a solid track record of delivering value to companies, CRM has not achieved its full potential. Some 74 percent of executives say they believe CRM fails because of flawed execution of plans, echoing Accenture’s view that the full potential is achievable by making sure there is no gap between the organization’s vision and its execution.

“Too many CRM projects focus on the mechanics – specific tools and technologies – rather than the ultimate goal: increasing the value of the customer relationship,” said John Freeland, Accenture global managing partner for Customer Relationship Management. “CEOs are now challenged not only to deliver more sophisticated sales and service capability, but also to deliver and manage these capabilities more quickly and cost-effectively. Companies face some significant challenges in making their CRM initiatives pay off.”

“But that doesn’t mean that CRM is fated to become no more than a fad,” Mr. Freeland said. “When properly conceived and executed, CRM programs can create exceptional economic value.”

"CEOs need to take a closer look at innovative and proven methods of maximizing the return on investment of CRM and customer value initiatives by going back to the basics,” said Beth Eisenfeld, CRM research director of Gartner. “Key lessons learned from some of the early CRM pitfalls will help organizations achieve this goal."

Technology-based solutions designed to establish longer-lasting, more profitable relationships with customers are typically associated with a class of enterprise applications known as Customer Relationship Management. According to the survey, executives say that better data and customer insight obtained through CRM can increase sales by as much as 20 percent.

Anatole Gershman, an Accenture partner and director of Research for Accenture Technology Labs, said, “What this survey shows is that while there has been a great deal of progress in the technologies designed to deliver customer insight, we are far from realizing the full potential for enhancing customer relationships."

Highlights of the survey:

  • More than half of the respondents (56 percent) said their businesses would grow from 1 percent to 20 percent if they could gain access to comprehensive customer data.

  • There was overwhelming agreement that technology capable of delivering “historical, current and real-time data” on customers would significantly drive sales: 35 percent said sales would increase to “a great extent,” while 43 percent said they would increase “to some extent.”

  • Slightly more than 20 percent said they felt they were optimizing all customer data “to a great extent” to dramatically drive sales. Forty-seven percent said such data was being used “to some extent.”

  • When asked if technology was helping their companies gain better insight into customers, 33 percent said “to a great extent,” while 54 percent said “to some extent.”

  • Among the other reasons most frequently noted for the shortfall of CRM programs were: no long-term CRM vision; weak business case for investments; investments are not prioritized; and return on investment is not calculated properly.

This survey mirrored the findings of a recent study conducted in the United Kingdom by Accenture, in which business executives also linked technology with improved customer satisfaction.

About the Survey
Accenture conducted the survey in conjunction with Wirthlin Worldwide. Wirthlin’s periodic Executive Omnibus survey is designed to find out what the nation’s top corporate leaders think about the issues affecting business today. Wirthlin interviewed, by telephone, a representative sample of over 100 of the leading executives in the Fortune 1000 in May 2002. A broad range of industries, services, locales, land sizes of companies are equally represented.

About Accenture
Accenture is the world’s leading management consulting and technology services organization. Through its network of businesses approach – in which the company enhances its consulting and outsourcing expertise through alliances, affiliated companies and other capabilities – Accenture delivers innovations that help clients across all industries quickly realize their visions. With more than 75,000 people in 47 countries, the company generated net revenues of US $11.44 billion for the fiscal year ended August 31, 2001. Its home page is www.accenture.com.

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