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The Pesky “M” in “CRM”

by Scott Nelson  |  July 27, 2011  |  3 Comments

I have been a practitioner in the ranks of CRM for a long time, in fact, since before it had that name. 16 years at Gartner. 8 as an end user before that. And in that whole time, the “M” in CRM, “management”, has always bothered me.

I never liked that word. I don’t believe customers want to be “managed” (I know I don’t). And I have read many pundits who have made that point. But the issue always has been, what would be the correct term? I have heard all kinds of recommendations. “Partnership”, “Relationship”, “Experience”. All have their merits, but none ever seemed right. I think the problem is that there is no one word that works. The reason is that it is two.

I think the correct words are “insight” and “information”. That is really what it is all about. What we think of as CRM is about acquiring information and gaining insight to know what the customer is telling us, and what we should be doing going forward. That is the real key to what we are trying to accomplish in CRM. And e commerce and social media just exacerbates this. It is all about information and insight.

Now I am not recommending that we change the moniker from CRM to CRII. Clearly that doesn’t work. But maybe it is time we thought less about management, and more about insight.

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Category: crm-strategy  

Scott D. Nelson
Managing VP
12 years at Gartner
18 years IT industry

Scott Nelson is a managing vice president in Gartner Research. He is responsible for managing research in the area of CRM. His particular research focuses on CRM vision and strategy.


Thoughts on The Pesky “M” in “CRM”


  1. […] Read the original: The Pesky “M” in “CRM” […]

  2. Interesting take on the management side of customer service. Agree that perhaps “management” isn’t the right term, but I wonder how often consumers and customers outside of the industry actually come in contact with our terms.

    Thank you Scott!

  3. Scott Nelson says:

    True. But the terms we use influence our strategy



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