GI Insight Study: One in Five U.K. Firms Has a Head of CRM


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One in five (19%) top UK corporations have now demonstrated their commitment to customer relationship management by appointing a dedicated Head of CRM, a study by integrated marketing specialist GI Insight has found. This is a substantial increase on the proportion (14.5%) two years ago and represents a growth rate in dedicated CRM Directors of almost one third in the last two years.

The study also analysed the number of Heads of CRM in total, including those that also have another main job, such as Marketing Director or Customer Services Director. The findings show that 48% of UK top 500 companies now employ a Head of CRM compared to 44% in 2005. These findings serve as a barometer of ‘CRM commitment’ and were compared to findings from 2005.

Andy Wood, Managing Director, GI Insight, comments: “Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is now a universally accepted concept amongst marketers. Since one-off CRM technology costs can be written off and ongoing senior people costs cannot, a company that puts CRM into the title of one of its senior managers is making a real statement of commitment to CRM. In many cases, measurable return on investment has to be proved before a company will appoint a Head of CRM into a senior directorial role (regardless of whether this is an internal promotion or external hire). In this sense our Heads of CRM penetration is acting as a real indicator of commitment. CRM initiatives have been taken, hard bottom-line results measured, and ongoing metrics put in place, before CRM management is afforded senior status.”

More detailed analysis of the study revealed a number of sectors that score particularly highly for appointing Heads of CRM. Three industries stand out from the crowd:

Retail – of retail organisations appointing a Head of CRM, 52% of these are dedicated Heads of CRM. Because transactional data is so fundamental to customer relationship management in retail, the sector’s leading position for appointing dedicated Heads of CRM may well also reflect some of the ways in which retailers can use the data and analysis outputs that come out of their CRM programmes.

Media and entertainment – of media and entertainment organisations appointing a Head of CRM, 50% of these are dedicated Heads of CRM. This was entirely unexpected. Music labels, publishers, broadcasters, cinemas, and so on are, after all, mainstays of the above-the-line advertising industry. However, customer value is often much higher now than in the past. Newspapers are engaging their readers with a wide range of online and offline services, music publishers are also issuing games, technology, infotainment products and much more. And the culture of home entertainment has been vastly boosted by increasing levels of DVD viewing and television usage.

Travel/leisure/hotel – of travel, leisure and hotel organisations appointing a Head of CRM, 46% are dedicated Heads of CRM. Businesses in this sector seem to be coming back into play as effective CRM players. This is a crucial return to form for the sector, seen in the 1980s as pioneers of loyalty and database marketing initiatives, but who slipped to the back of the pack in the 1990s and the early years of the new millennium.

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