By Frank J. Romano October 3, 2005 -- American enterprises are investing billions of dollars in so-called customer relationship management (CRM) systems. These systems keep track of customers and potential customers so that the company can communicate with them and sell something. I think American companies can scrap these systems and save billions by just following my nine simple rules: Every American company can immediately improve their customer relationships if they simply answer the phone. I am tired of a gazillion menu options to finally reach a real person. My bank makes me key my account number, and then, when I make human contact, they ask me for it again. Every American company can get more business out of me if they simply get to know me. My credit card says member since 1968. One of the rewards they offer me for my accumulating loyalty points is a flight to Hong Kong. Yet, their records would show that I have not charged an airline flight since 1972. Every American company would have my loyalty if it just cared. The experts on one-to-one marketing, Peppers and Rogers, have a print magazine and an email newsletter. They dropped me from the print version, but continue to send me the e-mail (read "cheaper") version. I guess I was not worth an extra mailing to renew my subscription. On the other hand, some magazines send renewal notices ad nauseum. Every American company can sell to me if they mail me something relevant. Half of my mail comes because someone I do business with sold my name to someone I do not do business with. That second company then just mailed me whatever without any analysis into the nature of the first company's database. Every American company should communicate with us asynchronously. That means no phone calls. That means no telemarketing. If I want to talk to them, I will call. Use mail and e-mail so I will not be interrupted. Every American company can improve their communication by tailoring its communication to me. My car dealer, from whom I bought three cars and have all maintenance done, does not do e-mail. To call for an appointment means leaving a message and waiting to be called back. If you do not sit by a phone or answer your cell anywhere, you wind up playing telephone tag for hours--or, in one case, days. Yet, after every visit, I get a form to fill out because they want to maintain their "excellent" service reputation. Every American company should be honest. I keep getting post cards from a company in Virginia that says it is doing a directory of my high school (which was in Brooklyn, NY). The cards want me to call them. I know what they want--they will collect some information and try to sell me the directory. At least my college has a web-based form and then follows up with a printed confirmation. Every American company can sell more if their people concentrated on the customer. Standing at a counter to buy something while two employees are talking about what they had for breakfast is not good business. No wonder people buy from the website. Strike a balance between fawning over and ignoring me. Every American company can be better if they work to understand their market and their customers. And that goes for printers.