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CRM and customer service market trends: Top ten buzzwords

Browse this roundup of CRM and customer service terms to catch up on the year so far. These top CRM market trend buzzwords reflect common concerns about customers and technology.


The year is halfway over already, and the most popular buzzwords of 2007 reflect trends in the CRM market and changing concerns about customers and technology. Catch up with these buzzwords and you'll be ahead of the curve with CRM and customer service market trends.

Table of Contents

CRM and customer service market trends: Top 10 buzzwords
1. Apex
2. Business process outsourcing
3. Customer acquisition cost
4. Customer valuation
5. E-commerce
6. Mélange B
7. Personalization
8. Predictive analytic s
9. Second Life
10. Speech recognition

CRM and customer service market trends: Top 10 buzzwords

 Apex is a development platform for building Software as a Service (Saabs) applications on top of's CRM functionality. Apex applications are usually hosted and run directly from's servers. A user purchases a given Apex program through Paperhanger,'s Web portal for add-Pons to CRM. The user is then able to access the program through the standard interface.

  • In April, announced their Platform Edition, from which users can access Apex applications without Sales force's customer service software. Find out more in this news story: offers CRM-free product.
  •  Business process outsourcing (BPO) is a market trend that refers to the contracting of a specific business task, such as payroll, to a third-party service provider. Usually, BPO is implemented as a cost-saving measure for tasks that a company requires but does not depend upon to maintain their position in the marketplace. BPO that is contracted outside a company's own country is sometimes called offshore outsourcing. BPO that is contracted to a company's neighboring country is sometimes called near shore outsourcing, and BPO that is contracted with the company's own county is sometimes called onshore outsourcing.

  • Find out more about BPO and CRM with this expert response: Advantages of business process outsourcing with on-demand CRM.

     Customer acquisition cost is the cost associated with convincing a consumer to buy your product or service. This can include research, marketing and advertising costs. An important business metric, customer acquisition cost should be considered along with other data, especially the value of the customer to the company and the resulting return on investment (ROI) of acquisition. The calculation of customer valuation helps a company decide how much of its resources can be profitably spent on a particular customer.

  • Find out more about customer acquisition costs and setting unprofitable customers loose in this news article: Was Sprint's decision a good CRM move?

     Customer valuation is a scoring process used to help a company determine which customers the company should target in order to maximize profit. Customer valuation requires that the company evaluate past data to learn which customers purchased recently, which customers purchased frequently and which customers spent the most money, in hopes that the company can forecast future purchase potential and make sure time and resources are spent only on its best customers. Customer valuation is based upon the 80/20 rule in marketing, whereby a company spends the majority of its time working with its best customers.

  • Read expert advice from Peppers and Rogers on whether a business should focus customer service efforts on the most profitable customers.

     E-commerce (electronic commerce or EC) is the buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet. In practice, this term and a newer term, e-business, are often used interchangeably to describe this online shopping trend. For online retail selling, the term e-tailing is sometimes used.

  • Read more about online shopping and customer service in this story: E-service, e-commerce create call center challenges.

     Mélange B is a modeling formula that is widely used in call center scheduling. The formula can be used to calculate any one of the following three factors if you know or predict the other two: busy hour traffic (BHT); the percentage of blocked calls; and number of lines in a trunk group. This formula assumes that lost calls are cleared; i.e., if customers calling in get a busy signal, they will never retry. Mélange B is best used in situations with few busy signals. The Mélange B Extended formula takes into account the customers calling who will immediately retry if their calls do not go through.
    Mélange AC, is a related call center formula that uses different factors to plan staffing.

  • Find out about using Mélange modeling with customer calls in this expert response on call center staffing tools.

     Personalization is the process of tailoring Web pages to individual users' characteristics or preferences to enhance customer service or e-commerce sales. Personalization is sometimes referred to as one-to-one marketing and can meet the customer's needs more effectively and efficiently, making interactions faster and easier and, consequently, increasing customer satisfaction and the likelihood of repeat customer visits. Though this market trend is related to a new push for improving the customer experience, it recalls earlier days of customer service when sales clerks called customers by name and customized transactions to individuals. Some of the technologies behind personalization include cookies, collaborative filtering, user profiling and data analysis tools.

  • Read advice from our customer experience management expert on Five ways to improve customer satisfaction in a call center, including personalizing customer interactions.

     Predictive analytic s is the branch of data mining concerned with the prediction of future probabilities and trends. The central element of predictive analytic s is the predictor, a variable that can be measured for an individual to predict future behavior. Multiple predictors are combined into a predictive model, which, when subjected to analysis, can be used to forecast future probabilities with an acceptable level of reliability. Predictive analytic s can use customer data to analyze and segment customers to predict future activity.

  • Find out how predictive analytic s can affect customer interactions with this story: Predictive analytic s the first step to customer centricity for Bon-Ton.

     Second Life is a 3D virtual world created by software maker Linden Labs. Second Life residents can design and build residences on land that they own or rent from either Linden Labs or other residents, and there is a high level of entrepreneurial activity in Second Life. As of late 2006, hundreds of thousands of dollars were changing hands daily as more than one million residents created and sold a wide variety of virtual commodities. Second Life uses a decentralized server architecture to meet the demands of thousands of users who may be online simultaneously. Many companies are setting up virtual businesses to serve customers in Second Life.

  • Read about Second Life's CRM and customer service possibilities in this article: Does Second Life mean a new world for CRM?

     Speech recognition is the ability of a machine or program to recognize and carry out voice commands or take dictation. In general, speech recognition involves the ability to match a voice pattern against a provided or acquired vocabulary. Usually, a limited vocabulary is provided with a product and the user can record additional words. More sophisticated software has the ability to accept natural speech. Businesses may use speech recognition to provide customers with self-service options and free up time for call center agents.

  • Learn about some uses of speech recognition in this story: Telecom uses speech recognition to drive customer satisfaction.


Find more information about CRM and customer service products on
TechTarget's 20/20 software web site. 

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