Along with "dot-com," another linguistic relic of the late 1990s is "CRM." The acronym is barely uttered anymore in polite business circles--at least not without knowing, sideways glances. That's because the promise of both the Internet and customer relationship management were notoriously inflated during the last few years of the 20th Century, and many companies that bet too much on those promises lost millions."From the late 1990s through about 2001, there was this tremendous expectation that CRM in conjunction with the Web was going to solve everybody's problems," says Tom Congoran, vice president of health care at Pegasystems Inc., a Cambridge, Mass.-based business process management (BPM) software firm.

"Obviously that hasn't happened," he says. "In fact, in the health care industry, the percentage of customer service that takes place over the Web is still very low for most large payers in this country."

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