CHARLOTTE – Customer relations management is receiving more attention and funding from private companies as the economy begins to rebound, according to a survey just out from Customer Connect Associates.

In its second Quarterly Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Trends Census, the Charlotte firm says participating companies are placing a greater emphasis on direct marketing efforts, such as e-mail, direct mail, telesales, catalogs and CRM technologies and less emphasis on direct sales.

At the same time, companies continue to devote resources to analysis in the form of segmentation, data mining, modeling, business intelligence and web marketing at about the same rate as last quarter.

The census revealed five trends. As the economy turns around, there is renewed interest in making capital investments to support CRM. The proportion of companies implementing new technology jumped from 24 percent in May to 69 percent in August.

Another trend is that budgets for direct marketing are on the increase, while budgets for sales support are declining. Companies projecting a higher budget for direct marketing rose from 18 percent in May to 38 percent in August. However, the number of companies projecting an increase in their budget for sales dropped from 41 percent in May to 19 percent in August.

New sales force automation (SFA) projects being down significantly is a third trend. The number of companies launching new SFA projects dropped from 37 percent in May to 19 percent in August.

Technologically, companies are reporting initiation or successful completion of more CRM-related projects. A fourth trend noted the primary investment remains the marketing database or warehouse as these systems move from being a competitive advantage to a business necessity. The number of companies implementing these systems jumped from 22 percent in May to 38 percent in August.

Finally, as more companies develop marketing databases, they are beginning to automate more marketing functions, with 27 percent of companies launching Marketing Automation projects in May and 38 percent in August.

The survey included companies with less than $1 million up to over $1 billion in revenues with respondents fairly evenly distributed. Over half of the respondents sell to both businesses and consumers.

Customer Connect Associates will conduct its next Quarterly CRM Trends Census in December 2003. Individuals can sign up to participate in the survey and receive the results by email at census@cust-connect.com or by visiting the company website.

Customer Connect: www.cust-connect.com