What does this type of development mean for CMR? The Internet’s omnipresence will be dizzying, but the good news is it will allow for more personalized interaction. The bad news is that some companies claiming to be “doing” CRM, but really just targeting customers for special offers, will push what they want to sell to customers wherever they are. My fear is that too many will try to capitalize on that two minutes waiting for the gas tank to fill by flashing more and more generic banner ads, in effect creating more spam.
Firms will be able to capitalize on the Internet being “everywhere you are” to help customers manage the relationship anytime, from anywhere. In the traditional brick-and-mortar retail setting we have always taught sales associates not to greet customers with the phrase, “May I help you?” It made it easy for the customer to say no. Perhaps now, if we’re really trying to let customers manage the relationship, it’s time now to greet that customer who is trying to get something done in his two minutes at the gas station with a cheery, “How may I help you today?”
Some firms are finding new ways to let customers manage the relationship from wherever they are. For example, the Golden Paw, a San Diego luxury boarding resort and spa for pets, does this with Web cams placed throughout its 11,000-square-foot center. They allow customers to log on and see how their pets are during their absence. Customers call it “a nice, comforting feeling.” As trivial as this example may seem, The Golden Paw’s service to customers is a perfect example of CMR in action. They have found a way to empower customers by reacting in real time to customers’ needs.
To meet customers’ current needs we have to have the same memory as the customer. That will require integration of back-office and frontline activities using information originating from and communicating in real time with every other sales and communication channel for that customer. The sources of customer information will include brick-and-mortar stores and offices, sales associates, mail, fax, e-mail, phone, the Web, wireless, and interactive TV. Most companies still have a long way to go for capturing that sort of customer information.
PwC Consulting queried 2,000 global companies and found that:
74 percent said their companies “need to do more” to improve back-to-front integration
64 percent said their companies “need to do more” to integrate data from multiple channels
Only 17 percent regarded back-to-front integration as “achieved”
Only 24 percent rated cross-channel integration as “achieved”
This integration is no longer an option. As customers continue to move from your call center to your Internet interactive channels for control and accessibility, and as their opportunities for interaction become available everywhere they are, your opportunities for CMR expand to influence more of their everyday activities. The “villages” David Brin predicted will become communities of customers where your reputation will be on the line every day. Anything that stands in the way of the customer managing the relationship, anything that hinders customers’ ability to help themselves, will stand out. You won’t have any choice. You will have to reengineer your business processes from the outside in, starting with the customer and the things that will make her life easier.
Kim Peterson, “Look Who’s Watching,” The San Diego Union-Tribune, January 2001, p. C7.
Adam Klaber and Dan Hirschbuehler, “The Alchemy of CRM,” line56 .com, February 9, 2002, p. 3.