As much as we like to talk about one-to-one marketing, it will never be possible to allow every customer to manage the relationship with your firm. Even companies trying CRM had to narrow down the selection of customers they could try to manage based on specific characteristics. In earlier work helping companies to establish CRM initiatives, the team from Seklemian/Newell would create a list of criteria by first asking clients how well they knew their customers. We would typically ask questions like these:
Who are your best customers who contribute the majority of your revenues?
Do you know how many are shopping your store more or less frequently than a year ago, or spending more or less per visit?
How much of their spending is done in your store versus in a competitor’s?
How satisfied are they with your current offers, including the non-product aspects of your offers?
How vulnerable are you to competing offers?
Do you know why your customers might be dissatisfied with you or with your competitors?
Are you their store of choice?
These are all good questions from a company-centric standpoint, but not enough to set a course for CMR. Beyond identifying your best customers and charting their visits and spending patterns, CMR requires knowing more about their potential. To find the customers you can best turn into assets, and to learn the things you will have to change as you re-engineer your business processes to allow the customer to manage the relationship, the questions are a bit different. Here are some questions to help start your thought process:
Can you describe, in great detail, the type of customers that hold the greatest growth potential for your business? Why do they need you, what is their greatest need, and what parts of your business process limit their ability to help themselves to information and transactions?
Out of all the customer types you think are already doing business with you, can you pick the type you are most likely to be wasting your money on this very minute? Can you learn anything about their interests and needs that would enable you to turn more of the relationship-building power over to them, thus reducing your expense and making them more profitable customers?
Do you know how to reach the types of customers that are happiest with your business relationship but exist only in small numbers? Chances are these customers have already discovered ways to participate in the management of the relationship. What can you learn from them that will translate to a broader market?
Can you describe in detail the type of customer who is most likely to recommend you highly to a friend? Can you identify the elements of this business relationship that are most responsible for this strong tie?
Can you identify the type of consumer who is most likely to spend money with you once and then never again? Are there things you can change in the business relationship that, through empowerment, would keep this type of consumer as a loyal customer?
Would you recognize your best prospect type if you were sitting next to him on an airplane, and would you know how to have a meaningful conversation with that person?
Within any one of these customer segmentations there will be customers you can count on to continue to give you their business, and there will be customers at risk. There are some important issues that can make the difference. The next step is to find those issues as they relate to each of the customer segments.