By Susan Kuchinskas
With Jim Dawson, president of Datex, a provider of CRM, CIS, and billing software and services to a variety of vertical markets, including ISPs and financial institutions. Datex's Advanced Customer Management Engine includes a proprietary Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) process. Unlike many CRM systems, Dawson says his company's product works by replacing or augmenting the billing system—where the money is.
This interview originally appeared in the IT Business Edge weekly report on Enabling Electronic Business. To see a complete listing of IT Business Edge weekly reports or sign up for this free technology intelligence agent, visit www.itbusinessedge.com.
Question: I've been hearing that poor data quality is getting a lot of CRM initiatives off-track. What do you recommend for making sure that the CRM application is working with clean data that accurately reflects the business operations?
Dawson: Whether you're switching vendors or not, to ensure data integrity is a best practice. Quite often, a good litmus test is, if you can't migrate data from one application to another. It's not a bad idea for any company to take a snapshot of the data and ensure its integrity by using a software utility. Issues of duplicate data, such as a customer entered multiple times with slightly different spellings, quite often can only be identified through manual processes, an actual visual scan of the data.
Question: Are most businesses doing this regularly?
Dawson: Very few. Only when you have a mandate to migrate the data does anyone actually look at it and clean it up. For example, if you're about to send out an expensive brochure, and you want to avoid mailing out three of them to the same client, it's worth it.
Question: What about the billing process? Many CRM vendors have initiatives that will let businesses begin to link their billing and CRM systems.
Dawson: We focus on the money. Our approach is to put the revenue at the core of the system, so that not only accounts receivable but also the entire system is centered on the revenue. Our advice to customers is that nothing is worth doing unless you're tracking the dollars. Certainly, customer loyalty goes hand-in-hand with the dollar, but if you're not billing properly or have revenue leakage, what's the point?