Headlines: August 23rd, 2004

The reluctance of some councils to install customer relationship management systems, and the failure of others to make best use of them, has prompted a research initiative to find out what benefits the systems deliver. CRM systems bring together customer records to a single point to provide a fast and reliable response to personal and telephone callers. The research will be carried out as part of the National Customer Relationship Management Programme, which is sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.Although some three quarters of councils are involved in the National CRM Programme, only about half have installed a CRM system. What is more disturbing is that a recent survey by NDL Ltd found that many councils are using CRM systems as a call logging facility rather than as a business efficiency tool. The survey also revealed that integrating existing systems with a new CRM system is proving a major challenge mainly because processes have to be re-engineered and in many cases the organization has to be re-structured to support new ways of working.

This CRM National Programme research will centre on identifying the benefits and providing tools that allow councils to calculate the Return on Investment for their CRM system. The CRM Programme will also broaden its list of benefits that councils have already realised. There will be a detailed investigation of councils that have already implemented CRM and an evaluation of the value the systems have brought to both councils and their citizens.

It is also planned to develop support networks to help councils work together in implementing CRM. This will enable them to seek advice not only from private consultancies, but also from other councils who ‘have been there and done that’. The project team believe that hearing the advice and experience of other councils is key to overcoming some of the barriers to adopting a new CRM system.