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Opportunity Is Knocking. Is Anyone Home?

By Allan Alter  |  Posted 11-06-2006 Print
November 2006 Customer Strategies Survey, Complete Report: Companies must do a better job of using data and technology if they want to attract new customers—and keep old ones happy.

The current economic expansion is five years old, and IT executives expect the good times will continue: 80 percent of respondents to this month's Customer Strategies Survey say they are focused on revenue growth, not on cutting costs. But when the inevitable recession arrives and 2006 starts to seem like the good old days, will your company look back with satisfaction at the way it courted new customers or with regret over opportunities left on the table?

Our study suggests it will be the latter, despite the growth of e-commerce and "long-tail" niche-market tactics. Why? We found four main reasons: Companies are using only a fraction of the massive amounts of customer data they collect; many firms do not use analytics, salesforce automation, and other sales and marketing technologies, and often fall short when they do; company Web sites are often not among the most profitable sales channels; and customer-service problems are getting worse, despite increased Internet use. No wonder the tech strategies companies use to serve and profit from customers fail to meet expectations about a third of the time.

Companies will surely get better; the Internet era is young, and we have a lot to learn. But CIOs can do their share by continuing to push for integration and data quality, and by making smart investments in appropriate technologies. Remember: There's no such thing as a return on missed opportunities.


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