Customer Relationship Management in the Paper Industry

Customer Relationship Management in the Paper Industry

          
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Customer Relationship Management in the Paper Industry

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    In This Article
    • The paper industry—with overcapacity, price pressures, and narrowing gaps between quality levels of competing products—might seem an unlikely setting for successful CRM programs.
    • A holistic approach for achieving competitive advantage through superior understanding of—and more effective relationships with—its customers is precisely what the paper industry needs.
    • The key to its successful realization of CRM—developing highly refined, strategic customer segmentation—is more a traditional management skill than a fashionable new concept.
     

    “CRM in the paper industry is a waste of time and money.” We have heard this declaration repeatedly in the executive suites of paper companies. Admittedly, there are some grounds for this belief. Surveys conducted in Europe and the United States reveal that most customer relationship management (CRM) projects, across all industries, fail to deliver the value expected from them. The paper industry—suffering from overcapacity, price pressures, and narrowing gaps between the quality levels of competing products—hardly seems the most likely setting for successful CRM programs.

    Nonetheless, The Boston Consulting Group’s experience working with industry leaders, together with our research, suggests that CRM can be worthwhile for paper companies. Indeed, CRM can help them overcome a problem that is endemic to the industry: lack of customer orientation. Properly applied, CRM is far more than an IT-based system for collecting customer data; it is a holistic approach for achieving sustainable competitive advantage through superior understanding of customers and more effective relationships with them. That understanding and those relationships are precisely what the paper industry needs.

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