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The CRM Handbook.

TITLE: The CRM Handbook: A
 Business Guide to Customer
 Relationship Management
AUTHOR: Jill Dyche
ISBN: 0-2017-30626
PUBLISHER: Addison-Wesley
LENGTH: 279 pages
PRICE: $27.99

The acronym "CRM" is a relatively new buzzword in the information technology (IT) industry. Yet already, there are books, courses, seminars, and presentations ad nauseum on the topic. CRM, in the IT arena, stands for customer relationship management; in the records and information management (RIM) professionals' circle it means something totally different -- or does it?

In the RIM field, a certified records manager -- also known as a CRM -- is someone who possesses a broad base of knowledge in the information management field and related disciplines. It is someone who knows and understands the RIM field and is able to convey that message to others. Likewise, people who specialize in customer relationship management know and understand their product or service and are able to communicate it effectively to their clients. Hmmm ... not too much of a difference after all.

It isn't the time or the place to get bogged down in the acronym; however, it is worth learning more about the principles and concepts of customer relationship management and how it relates to those in the RIM field. The CRM Handbook: A Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management provides a very good tool for those new to the field of customer relationship management and gives examples of how to go about achieving a good relationship with clients, whoever they may be.

The author, Jill Dyche, defines CRM as: "The infrastructure that enables the delineation of and increase in customer value, and the correct means by which to motivate valuable customers to remain loyal -- indeed, to buy [use] again."

Isn't that what all RIM professionals are striving for -- to retain the customers they have now by continuing to provide the products/services that customers currently want and to encourage other customers to buy in? In The CRM Handbook, it is obvious that the customers referred to are the buying/consuming public. However, the same ideas and principles can be applied to RIM customers, the employees and colleagues of the organization where a RIM professional works. CRM is really a more streamlined version and more conscious effort at a marketing program.

As the RIM profession evolves into more of a collaborative endeavor between administration, information technology, and information management, the process for keeping and acquiring customers becomes more relevant. The CRM Handbook provides information on the various techniques and areas where CRM can be applied. It discusses how to view customers and why it is important to know who they are, what they want, and how to provide the service/product that best fits their needs.

The CRM Handbook is organized in a "start-to-finish" fashion, with the beginning chapters defining and providing background around the subject and the subsequent chapters describing the various areas where CRM can be used and how. It is written in an easy-to-understand style without a lot of technical jargon. It is laid out in an easy-to-follow fashion with diagrams and tables to illustrate the various points in the text. The chapters are broken up with subheadings, which allow the reader to visually see the path of discussion being followed. Each chapter has a real-life scenario showing or emphasizing the points being discussed.

The second part of the book supplies the reader with the "how to" part of CRM. It provides valuable ideas, insights, and lessons learned. It goes into detail in describing how to design and implement a successful CRM program and what elements are required to achieve that success. The CRM Handbook even provides a checklist for failure, or things that need to be avoided.

There is also an extensive "Further Reading" section, which provides the reader with a complete list of books, magazines, journals, and Web sites that complement the materials presented. There is a glossary of terms section that helps to further clarify any of the words and phrases that were used.

Dyche is a practitioner in the field of CRM. She is a consultant with a firm that specializes in the implementation and analysis of customer databases. She is a principal player in the company's consulting arm and leads teams through strategic technology initiatives, including data warehousing, database marketing, and CRM planning and implementation. Dyche knows of what she writes and is an accomplished author of other books and articles for major trade magazines and journals.

Overall, The CRM Handbook provides a well-balanced and useful guide to CRM without assuming the reader has a business degree or marketing experience. The main drawback to this book is that it is not RIM-specific, so readers will need to take the information gained and apply it to their own situation. There are many concepts that are not applicable to the RIM situation, and the case studies are not RIM exclusive. The basics of customer relations are, however, applicable to many disciplines where there is a need to connect with the consumer. It was best said in the book:
 "To succeed on this distinguished mission [CRM], a company's marketing
 process must be well defined. It must institutionalize the practice of
 customer differentiation. It must act on the information it analyzes,
 Moreover, it must not exist in a vacuum, but must support the other
 business processes that surround it ..."

Heather Richmond, CRM, is Vice-President of Marketing and Sales for CONDAR Consulting Inc., an information management consulting firm located in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. She can be reached at
COPYRIGHT 2002 Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Business Guide to Customer Relationship Management
Author:Richmond, Heather
Publication:Information Management Journal
Article Type:Book Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2002
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