I’ve been out of the CRM discussion for several months working on other projects and now it’s time to jump back in with both feet. Yes, you read the title right, I don’t believe those implementing CRM as a business strategy should focus on their customers.
I touched on this in a post on November 30 entitled, In CRM, It’s Not The Customer That’s Important. Mitch Lieberman responded to my post although he confessed he wasn’t sure if he agreed with me or not.
I’ll expand on that below, but first let’s dissect the term “Customer Relationship Management.” This is not an attempt to define the term, plenty of ink (toner? HTML?) has been spent doing that already. Let’s look at the term from a grammatical point of view.
Q: What kind of management are we discussing here?
A: Relationship management. (Many who disparage this term like to say “You can’t manage customers!” Sorry, it’s relationship management we’re talking about here. Not “customer management.”
Q: What kind of relationship management? Employee? Vendor? Children?
A: Customer Relationship Management.
You will note that it’s not “Customer Data Management” or “Customer Focus Management.” We’re attempting to manage our organization’s relationships with its customers. (By the way, I didn’t invent the term, and I agree with many who criticize the word “management.” Most people define “management” in this context as synonymous with “development,” not some hierarchical “My way or the highway!” attitude when speaking to the customer.)
Therefore, your CRM strategy should focus on building more effective relationships with your customers. Mitch responded to my first post by writing:
I really do not want a ‘relationship’ with AT&T. I want my mobile device to work, as advertised, and if it does not, then I want the issue fixed. A relationship with AT&T does not really benefit me, as a customer. I would prefer AT&T to be product-centric, that would keep me happy in the relationship.
Exactly! Mitch wants what we, in my organization refer to as a “low relationship.” He may not think of it as a relationship, but AT & T does. He wants minimal contact with them. Basically, he just wants his device to work as advertised. Too much communication from AT & T is just going to make him angry. Yet not all customers are like Mitch.
What about a different customer segment possessing the same device as Mitch that wants a few more communications from AT & T? Perhaps they want to know about new product or apps releases. They may be interested in learning about new data plans. Let’s refer to this segment as those wanting a “medium relationship.”
Then there are those people who consider themselves evangelists for that particular business (Okay, no snide remarks about AT & T) or who are major accounts, both of whom, for separate reasons, deserve special attention. Let’s refer to this segment as wanting a “High Relationship.”
By creating three separate segments we are focusing on building stronger relationships with our customers, by determining their communications preferences. We are able to focus our limited resources on contacting those customers who want to be contacted. We don’t waste our time contacting those who don’t want to be contacted and, more importantly, we won’t be damaging their relationships with us by over communicating.
For most organizations, there is no “one size fits all” strategy when dealing with customers. Figure out what segments you need based on their communication preferences and other factors unique to your situation. Once you’ve built the relationships, THEN you can focus on meeting and exceeding your customers’ needs. Without the relationships you won’t learn of their needs.
That’s why it’s called Customer Relationship Management and that’s why their relationships with you are more important than their needs.
Whether you relate to this post or not, follow me on Twitter. I’m txglennross.