It’s Not What You’ve Got, It’s What You Do With It

November 27, 2012
By guest blogger - Gareth Cartman

costumer-centric CRMThere’s a common misconception (perhaps illustrated in the cartoon above) that because you’ve got CRM with all the add-ons, then you’re streets ahead of the competition. But this doesn’t play out in the real world. As Nucleus pointed out recently in their research, 80% of the benefits a CRM can bring are not being realized. In other words, businesses might have all the tools at their disposition, but it’s not a case of “what you’ve got” that matters – it’s “what you do with it”.

Customer-Centric CRM

So why do so many CRM implementations fail? Because they’ve been too internal. They’ve focused from the start on the internal organisation, or a limited part of it, and they’ve forgotten the customer. You can implement a CRM with social integration and mobile access, but a CRM that is built around an internal structure instead of a customer-centric view is always going to be limited.

Lucy, therefore, should start asking questions about how her new boyfriend is going to implement his social strategy from a customer point of view, and indeed, whether he’s going to use it at all. She may have made the wrong choice!

To get a customer-centric CRM, you have to define your ideal, target customer. You have to gain clarity and insight into what that target customer is like, and how you’re going to build your strategy around them. Start with the customer, and work outwards, finishing with yourself – in other words, structure yourself around the customer and the CRM – not the other way round.

The key here is to look at the system from the point of view of leveraging CRM to improve the customer experience. Understand what that customer experience is, and you start to understand the kind of CRM you need. You need to build around the touchpoints that you commonly have with your customers – by e-mail, by phone, or on Twitter, and you need to understand the pain points your customers have in order to better serve them.

Remember Your Objectives

Every meeting of the CRM steering committee should start with the key objectives of WHY you started implementing a CRM in the first place:

- increasing customer loyalty
- increasing customer up-sell
- developing new business

You may have others, but these three are the main reasons why anyone buys into CRM. What you have to do is understand how the CRM will achieve these three, instead of thinking about how the CRM will fit around your organisation. Will you achieve sales buy-in? Will marketing get most out of it? Will customer support be able to get the information they need? If you know your ideal customer, then yes, they will.

Cultivating Customers

I call this cultivating your ‘marquee customers’ – those trophy customers that you prize so much. Analyse your current marquee customers and project that outwards – how do they operate? What are their concerns? And then answer those questions with a question – how am I going to use this CRM to make them advocates of my business?

Not only do you increase your chances of retaining your marquee customers, you start to understand the kind of customer you want to attract, and how you’re going to best serve them. From targeting to selling to customer service, you need to be seamless in your approach.

Many organisations simply aren’t ready to handle too much customer information, so ensure that you retain a focus on what’s required in order to drive those three key objectives mentioned above.

Then, You Can Expand Your CRM

It’s only now, once we’ve got a view of our marquee customer and how we’re going to attract, retain and turn into an evangelist for our business, that we can look at building out our CRM tactics.

In marketing, look at the marquee customer’s footprint and see if you can project that out. Look at the individuals as well as the businesses, and again, project out to build yourself a picture of your target market. Give yourself the tools to do this, and refine your data to something that your organisation can handle.

Customer-centric CRM is not about you. It’s not about databases, and it’s not about fancy social tools. It’s about improving the customer experience, and getting more customers.

And that’s why it works so well.

Author Bio:
Gareth Cartman is a business blogger with a background in digital, direct and data marketing, HR outsourcing and technologies.

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