Mark Flaherty, Vice President, Marketing, InetSoft, says there is a huge amount of insight about customer behavior and potential churn or customer loss to be derived from all the data stored in a CRM system that goes otherwise untapped without decent BI tools. Businesses know this; in the past, they've looked to copy the data into data warehouses and use heavy duty statistical analysis software to develop retention and scoring models. But now, while that is still important, businesses are looking to make the operational data in CRM systems more accessible and to link those retention scores back to the customer accounts.
"The biggest problem with retention management is that by the time an at-risk customer is recognized using traditional methods, the customer has already left, and getting him or her back is either impossible or exorbitantly expensive," explains Flaherty. "With a BI tool that offer good visualization, now macro retention trends can be spotted more easily and quickly and even at-risk customers can pop out at a glance. Front-line business managers are able to react sooner instead of waiting for statistical analysts to spit out reports for them."
There is still a challenge in using BI tools with CRM systems that are closed, storing the data in proprietary databases. This makes accessing the information difficult.
"I think CRM users are getting fed up with that, and [as a result] more vendors are opening access to the data," says Flaherty.
Forrester's Evelson thinks the BI scope should be broadened to include data gathering and management including data cleansing See address cleansing and data hygiene. , integration, aggregation and warehousing to enable the information to become meaningful actionable and integrated. BI has too long been defined, he says, to only encompass analytics, dashboards and reporting. Some 80 percent of the effort in building CRM is data organizing, reconciling from different sources, and sorted in different formats, addresses, and identifiers.
"If I am a business, I need to know if I am selling into the right or wrong customer segment, how customers are responding, and customer satisfaction," says Evelson. "Unless there is a very strong analytics program on back end with sufficient and clean data in BI, I cannot see what's effective, and what's not effective."