Most companies genuinely want to treat customers like royalty but are encountering difficulties when they try to figure out the best way to implement customer relationship management solutions. Often two branches of a company are inadvertently stepping on each other’s toes and the net result does more harm than good.

IT, for its part, delivers technology to companies desperate to improve any aspect of customer relationships. But often there is an obstacle due to the company’s belief that CRM implementations are a panacea for an ill-defined problem, not part of an overall business process.

Integrate your ERP with your CRM and your ERM will be A-OK. The problem is that it isn’t, according to results from a Cap Gemini Ernst & Young study of 24 major Canadian companies from telecommunications to utilities, from retail to financial services.

CGEY interviewed executives in the sales, marketing and service sections of the 24 companies to better understand how CRM is being implemented in Canada.

The results, though not shocking, were surprising in that they demonstrated how little communication exists between the three branches.

Paul Battista, vice-president of customer relationship management at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Canada Inc. in Toronto said it is as though the left and right hands don’t know what each other is doing. Part of this is because companies view CRM as a technology solution, a software application to simply be installed and run.

“They are almost reinforcing the functional ‘siloism’ that exists across marketing, sales and service,” he explained.

the biggest hurdle

He said from the Cap Gemini perspective, probably the biggest single challenge is to get those three functional groups aligned, sharing information and working as a cohesive unit.

Battista cited the example of a financial institution’s service people, who deal with you and your mortgage being undermined because, at the same time the marketing people approach you with a new mortgage deal even though you just signed a five year mortgage a few months before. Customers might start to lose confidence in the company’s ability to understand their particular needs, he added.

“We are seeing this all the time where the marketing folks are not connected with the service folks who are not connected with the sales folks.”

Battista admits CRM is in the early stages and still going through a growing period.

“The first stages of any cycle like this tend to be characterized with some na