Article at a glance
Many companies don’t pass leads and case histories across the boundaries of
departments and businesses and therefore miss opportunities to make sales or resolve
Customer relationship management systems record customer preferences and histories
but are often isolated in one part of a company.
By strategically linking discrete CRM systems, companies can routinely pass valuable
sales or service data to the right person—whoever can offer what the customer needs.
Often, much of the technology is already in place, so the main barrier to building these
connections is simply a failure to recognize their value.
Connecting CRM systems
for better customer service
McKinsey on IT Fall 2006
To make the most of relationships with buyers, companies around the world
spent $35 billion on customer relationship management (CRM) applications software and
services in 2005.1 These investments have generated a wide range of outcomes, but often
the payoff has been substantial: boosting revenues, improving the customer experience, and
reducing the cost of sales, marketing, and customer service.
The benefits would be greater still if more companies improved the way they interact with
customers across channels and product groups—for example, by enhancing coordination
among customer service calls, Web site visits, and direct sales. Many retailers track their
customers’ online and in-store purchases, but few connect the two in order to see the full
value of each buyer. Most companies also lack a systematic way to pass leads and service
requests from one channel or product group to another, leaving it up to dutiful employees
to bridge those gaps by making an exceptional effort, such as that of the bank teller who
jots down leads on pieces of paper and hands them to the private-banking team.
Even companies with solid CRM programs in their most important channels usually fail
to make these important connections, because the effort involves coordination and