Having just finalised an e-business thesis on Online Personalization, I must say that this book is an impressive source on the strategic level for what is synonymously called CRM, One-to-One marketing, relationship marketing, etc.

What I like about Peppers & Rogers is that they don’t pretend to be the only ones to have seen this shift in customer-focused organizations (although they were first-movers in US by coining the term One-to-One in 1993). Peppers & Rogers accept readily that many other people have interesting perspectives to add. Thus, this book includes many contributions from marketing wizards like Philip Kotler, Seth Godin, Bruce Kasanoff, and Patricia Seybold.

The book is the sixth from the authors. If you have read some of the previous publications, you’ll already be familiar with their core concepts like the IDIC-model (Identify-Differentiate-Interact-Customize), as well as Learning Relationships and customer Lifetime Value.

I believe that Peppers & Rogers’ most important contribution is to change a company’s focus from customer acquisition to customer retention. That is: Stop spending all you money getting new customers and start spending more on keeping and growing existing customers. This is where the learning relationships come in. The basic idea of Managing Customer Relationships, the authors concisely describe in plain English:

The Learning Relationships work like this: If you’re my customer and I get you to talk to me, and I remember what you tell me, then I get smarter and smarter about you. I know something about you my competitors don’t know. So I can do things for you my competitors can’t do, because they don’t know you as well as I do. Before long, you can get something from me you can’t get anywhere else, for any price. At the very least, you’d have to start all over somewhere else, but starting over is more costly than staying with me.

Being a Dane, I’m proud to see the reference made on page 172 that the relationship theory can be traced back to the Scandinavian School of Relationships Management (e.g. Gronroos and Gummeson). Back in the 1980′s, both were required reading in Scandinavian business schools. They often researched service firms and B2B-networks and based on this knowledge, they emphasised the contents and types of the business relationships and the required strategies to make these relationships work. It wasn’t until the 1990′s that CRM-initiatives took off in the United States - and usually they have been very technology-driven. Today, we all accept that you need both the relationship mindset and the technology-enabler. So the two approaches may ultimately achieve the same goals.