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CRM Glossary

Call Center

A organizational function that handles inbound and outbound customer communications, including activities such
as telemarketing, lead generation, customer support, help desk and telephone answering service.

CAN SPAM Act (Controlling the Assualt of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003

The Can Spam (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003) Act of 2003 is
the common name for United States Federal law S. 877. The law took effect on January 1, 2004. This federal law
permits courts to set damages of up to $2 million for violation. Federal district courts are also permitted to send violators to jail and/or triple the damages if the violation is found to be willful. The Can Spam Act requires that businesses clearly label commercial e-mail as advertising, use a truthful and relevant subject line, use a legitimate return e-mail address, provide a valid physical address, provide a working opt-out option and process opt-out requests within ten business days.

CRM relevance: Moderately relevant. Only a few SaaS Customer Relationship Management software applications provide packaged integration to CAN SPAM databases.

Additional CAN SPAM Act Information:

Capacity Requirements Planning (CRP)

The mathematical process to determine the amount of labor and/or equipment resources period of time (often by day or week) needed to meet the planned level of business production at particular work center.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. There is a relationship between CRM systems and CRP systems whereby sales force automation (SFA) forecasting is a lead step in determining the predicted goods and services necessary to begin the CRP process.

Challenge-Response System

A challenge-response system is a program that replies to an e-mail message from an unknown sender by subjecting the sender to a test (called a CAPTCHA - Completely Automated Public Turing Test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) designed to differentiate humans from automated senders. The system permits messages from people to get through while denying automated messages generally sent by spammers. Also, once a sender has passed the challenge-response, the sender is added to the recipient's white list and will not have to reprove themselves again.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. A few of the CRM systems incorporate challenge-response utilization into their utilities which transfer web site visitor form requests into the CRM or SFA application. These functionality prevents spam generated accounts on a web site from automatically creating new sales prospects in an SFA system.

Change Management

Change management is about introducing change successfully. Too often business changes suffer from strong employee resistance, reduced productivity, dissatisfied employees and unwanted turnover. In many cases these changes produce over budget, delayed or fail projects. Change management is the application of processes, tools and techniques to minimize the resistance to change and to achieve the desired business results, on time and on budget. Many web-based CRM software failures are attributed to (at least in part).

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Absent, improperly managed or lack of proactive change management is a very common factor associated with failed CRM implementations. As user adoption is and will likely always be a challenge to CRM implementation success, change management must be planned for and proactively implemented in conjunction with the overall CRM implementation process.

CMMI (Capability Maturity Model Integration)

CMMI is a business process improvement methodology with the three constellations of CMMI Development, CMMI Services and CMMI Acquisition. CMMI is an update to CMM and as of August 2006 is on version 1.2. The process model describes a five-level evolutionary path of increasingly organized more mature processes. The Capability Maturity Model Integration concept was originally sponsored by the US government as a method to independently verify an organizations viability and longevity in part by their ability to operate effectively. CMMI was developed and is promoted by the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), a research and development center sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).

  • At the initial level, processes are disorganized or even chaotic. Success is likely to depend on individual efforts and is not considered to be repeatable or predictable as processes are not well defined or understood.
  • At the repeatable level, basic business processes and project management techniques are established, and successes can be repeated, because the requisite process controls have been made defined, documented and trained.
  • At the defined level, an organization has developed its own standard software process through greater attention to documentation, standardization, and integration.
  • At the managed level, an organization monitors and controls its own processes through data collection and analysis.
  • At the optimizing level, processes are constantly being improved through monitoring feedback and introducing innovative processes to better serve the organization's needs.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. A few SaaS CRM software manufacturers have adopted and been independently appraised as CMMI organizations. While the marketability of such compliance is questionable, there is a clear correlation between CMMI appraised organizations and those organizations' ability to deliver reliable software and quality help desk support.

CMMI information:


An indirect delivery vehicle to distribute products and/or services to customers. Retailers, value added resellers (VARs) and wholesalers are examples of channel delivery.

CRM relevance: Fairly relevant. Integrating channel strategy and programs into sales force automation (SFA) efforts is a common undertaking. Partner relationship management (PRM) are an extension of CRM systems intended for partner-based organizations.

Channel Conflict

Channel conflict occurs when a direct sales force competes with an organization's indirect delivery channel. This can result in price discounting, internal competition and customer confusion. Examples of channel conflict are direct sales staff competing with indirect VARs or consumer products being sold via retail stores or the Internet.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. Clear business processes and policies implemented within a CRM or PRM system are the basis for mitigating channel conflict.


A rate of customer turnover or customer loss generally displayed as an annual percentage figure.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Decreasing customer churn (turnover) or inversely increasing client tenure is a common and fundamental CRM objective.

Clickstream Analysis

The review of the path and actions of web site visitors. This analysis is used to understand the visitor experience and improve web site user interface, navigation, content, effectiveness and the overall web site experience.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. Clickstream analysis can be used to understand prospect or customer behavior and adapt information systems to customer interests.

Client/ server

Client/server processing is the distribution of presentation, application and database logic between at least one client and one server. Client-side processes typically focus on user interface and highly interactive processes while the server-side processes leverage more computationally intensive processing.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. Packaged client/server CRM systems originated in 1993 and virtually replaced mainframe and host-based CRM systems. In a similar ongoing process, web-based CRM systems are now replacing client/server CRM systems at an aggressive pace.

Collaborative CRM

Generally includes communication utilities within on-demand CRM systems. These utilities may include live operator service, IM chat, web conferencing, intelligent message routing or even email handling. Voice over IP (VoIP) is sometimes put into this category.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. SaaS CRM systems are including.

Collaborative filtering

A semi-common customer relationship management software function which identifies products or services to one customer based on what other customers with similar preferences have purchased previously.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. Collaborative filtering is become more popular in online CRM systems and is often a part of cross selling and up-selling capabilities.

Customer-Managed Relationship

A customer-managed relationship (CMR) is a self service method which permits customers to control access and management of information or other resources. CMR is a relatively small subset of CRM. CMR is a response to facilitate customer demand for more control.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. CMR has not gained much momentum and gets little attention compared to customer self service portals and applications.

CRM (Customer Relationship Management)

CRM is a business strategy aimed at understanding, anticipating and responding to the needs of an enterprise's current and potential customers. CRM software facilitates the information management and automation for CRM business strategies. The most widely used definition of CRM software is an integrated business application software system which includes sales force automation (SFA), marketing automation and customer support.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. CRM business strategies are the inspiration which utilize Web-based CRM software systems as tools to achieve customer-centric business strategies.

CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods)

Acronym for Consumer Packaged Goods, an industry solution offered by several CRM and SFA software providers.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. The CPG industry is a popular technology adopter of CRM solutions, however, it is just one of many industries that is known to make extensive use of online CRM applications.

Cross selling

The selling of complimentary or add-on products or services as part of an original buyer request. Cross selling may occur with an original order or following a sale.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Cross selling is a very common strategic objective tied to Sales Force Automation (SFA) information systems.

CTI (Computer Telephony Integration)

Computer telephony integration (CTI), also known as just 'computer telephony', is the utilization of computer information systems to manage telephone systems. CTI systems integrate and link incoming telephone call information with customer information that resides in a database or CRM application.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. As customer contact methods have increased from telephone to also include email, Internet sites, IM chat and self service, the use of CTI has grown to include the integration of all customer communication channels. CTI is a popular and effective practice for call center operations and organizations utilizing customer support software applications.

CDI (Customer Data Integration)

Customer data integration (CDI) is the process of consolidating and managing customer information from all available sources, including front office CRM applications, back office ERP applications, direct marketing efforts and other programs. CDI contributes to the CRM goal of a 360 degree customer view.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. CDI is a core component of CRM accomplishment. Although many organizations have accumulated mass amounts of customer information, very few consolidate and correlate that information in order that it can be shared and leveraged as part of CRM success. According to a Forrester Research report, although 92% of companies surveyed believe having an integrated view of customer data is either "critical" or "very important," only 2% have actually managed to achieve that goal.

Customer Interaction Center

The Customer Interaction Center phrase has replaced the prior era term of Customer Support Center in large part as an attempt to acknowledge the wider variety of business services provided, including not only Customer Service, but also business development services such as telesales, pre-sales, direct sales and marketing.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Customer Interaction Centers make extensive use of SaaS CRM applications, including both sales force automation (SFA) and customer support software systems.

Customer Life Cycle

Customer life cycle is a term used to describe the progression of steps a customer advances through when evaluating, purchasing, implementing, using, and maintaining loyalty to a product or service.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Linking the customer life cycle measurement and progression to CRM strategy and information system automation is key to truly understanding and advancing CRM objectives.

Customer loyalty

The extent to which customers will maintain or show affiliation with a product or service instead of switching to a competitors solution.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Customer loyalty is a core CRM strategic objective. Customer loyalty is often measured in terms of customer longevity and customer (wallet) share

CSR (Customer Support Representative)

CSRs are the direct customer contact resources within Customer Interaction Centers. CSR's may be involved in outbound activities such as telemarketing or inbound communications such help desk support services.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. CSRs are the front line of customer relationships. They are often the most client facing and visible resources within the entire organization.

(COTS) Commercial Off The Shelf

COTS is an acronym originally developed by the US government to describe ready-made commercial products. While the term can be used to describe any type of commercial product, it is most often used to describe software solutions.

CRM relevance: Somewhat relevant. With the number of mature COTS CRM applications in the marketplace, there is little valid reason to recreate the wheel and develop custom CRM systems.

Customer Acquisition Costs

Customer acquisition cost is the cost total sales and marketing expense required to commence a client relationship. These costs typically include research, advertising, public relations, marketing, and sales costs.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Customer acquisition costs are key figures when evaluating demand generation programs. CRM marketing management applications often use campaign to track customer acquisition costs for each marketing campaign or event.

Customer Segmentation

Customer segmentation categorizes customers into identifiable segments for analysis, management and targeting purposes. Customer segmentation can include demographic criteria such as location or business type or include more qualitative factors such as buying behaviors or spending patterns.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Customer segmentation is a basic tenant of 1to1 marketing and several CRM strategic objectives.

Customer Valuation

Customer valuation, sometimes called scorecarding or database marketing, is a scoring and measurement process used to objectively qualify sales prospects. This practice evaluates past information and lessons learned to recognize which types of customers are the organization's best customers.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. Customer valuation is an automation component built into both sales force automation (SFA) applications and also used to improve marketing spend.

Customer Self Service

Self service applications are typically Internet-based portal application which empower customers to serve themselves. When the practice empowers employees with company information, it is known as employee self-service.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. The empowerment of customers to independently serve themselves in a 24/7 environment is a key CRM objective and common offering from web-based CRM systems. According to Forrester, the cost of the average Web self-service session is $1, compared to $10 for an email response and $33 for a telephone call.

Customer Facing

Customer-facing is a term to describe those software applications which have direct interaction with customer activities or tasks.

CRM relevance: Highly relevant. SaaS CRM applications are customer facing applications.