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Customer relationship mismanagement

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British firms are losing valuable business because of their "sloppy" approach to tracking leads and inability to win new clients, research released today has claimed.

One in four of the marketing and business development managers surveyed for the BT-commissioned customer relationship study admitted to recording crucial information incorrectly, which means they cannot subsequently find it.

British managers were found to jealously guard their customer contact information and refuse to share it with colleagues. Almost a third said they hoard customer data on personal technology devices such as mobiles and handheld computers or on personal paper-based files. In half the companies surveyed this meant that when someone left the firm, they took all of their business contacts with them.

Some 53 per cent of firms admitted that they struggle to find the right details of their business contacts and almost two thirds said they cannot trace customers' business history.

Somewhat predictably, according to BT, this knotty problem can only be effectively solved by deploying company-wide customer relationship management systems which force employees to share and efficiently manage customer data.

However, the study found that only half of companies have deployed any type of centrally accessible database or CRM systems for capturing and managing client information.

Paul White, head of CRM at BT Major Business, said that, in addition to technology, culture changes were needed to stop managers treating their colleagues with suspicion and end what the study described as a widespread office 'blame culture'. ®

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