The Truth About CRM Software – From Customers

By Heather Baldwin

Finding enthusiastic feedback about CRM software is easy if you tune into the vendors. What’s harder, but obviously much more valuable, is finding feedback on that software from actual customers. If you’re looking for independent user feedback to help make your CRM buying decision, check out “The State of Customer Relationship Management Software: 2003-2004,” a new study by David Mangen, customer research consultant and founder of Mangen Research Associates, and Dick Lee, CRM consultant and founder of High-Yield Marketing. The study includes more than 1,000 customer assessments of CRM software as well as customer satisfaction and functional ratings for the top 14 – without any vendor hype, analyst speak or vested-interest sponsors. Here are some of the study’s more notable findings.

Siebel is no silver bullet… There was a saying in the 1980s, notes Lee, that no one ever got fired for buying IBM. CRM’s version of that saying used to be that no one ever got fired for buying Siebel. Not anymore. “I’m not negative on the system, but it’s not an automatic anymore,” says Lee. “It’s not a solution for everyone and you can go wrong buying Siebel.” Lee and Mangen call Siebel’s ratings bipolar because the vendor has the highest functionality scores in the industry but finished 12th in customer satisfaction among the 14 vendors rated (only Oracle and Clarify finished lower). Why the disparity? The low customer focus score reflects a functional shortcoming, namely, “difficulty delivering the specific functionality individual customers want, which is very different from delivering enormous amounts of prebuilt functionality customers can elect to use,” say Lee and Mangen.

and neither are ASPs. ASP software as a category has some definite limitations, and companies with more than 100 employees could be making a serious mistake by rushing to sign on with an ASP vendor, says Lee. “The whole premise of ASPs is that it’s easy because it’s canned and it bypasses the whole systems integration issue,” Lee says. But the one-size-fits-all approach can be limiting for some companies. For example, take, one of the best-known ASP CRM vendors. The vendor excels at sales force automation (SFA), say Lee and Mangen. “In fact,’s 82.6 SFA score turned out to be the single highest functional score recorded by any system in any tier,” they conclude. But they also observe that the vendor’s market penetration is limited to small businesses and that “beyond field sales and supporting marketing functions, it’s very weak.”

MS CRM has great potential. Microsoft CRM was one of the surprises of the study. It finished second behind SalesLogix in customer satisfaction ratings – an achievement the authors call remarkable for a brand new system. Lee adds that while its functionality scores weren’t great, they were at such a level that one or two more releases could improve functionality outside the sales area. Coupled with its high customer satisfaction ratings, the improved functionality will “make it that much more attractive,” says Lee. “There’s no question Microsoft is a player.”

The study sells for $195. For more information, visit