At the start of this book, our customer asked why CRM isn’t working for her. Despite the fact that she has given personal information to companies, she continues to receive irrelevant and unwanted offers. Trying to manage customer relationships— targeting specific customers for specific product or service offerings—has done little to enrich the lives of our customers, and it’s clear that moving to a CMR way of doing business will make customers’ lives easier. Initiating this change requires fresh ways of learning to understand the values that are important to your individual customers, and then integrating that knowledge to create a single view of the customer.
There are many challenges you will encounter as you transition to CMR. Being able to answer “yes” to the following questions will help assure confidence in your success:
Are you ready for a world turned upside down?
In the world of CMR the power of defining the relationship transfers to the customer. Customers will engage in different types of dialog with suppliers, often being the ones to initiate the search for a solution. The concepts of self-service give the customer more control; the seller no longer mandates the process. There will still be targeting, but the customer may choose the target firm. In this topsy-turvy CMR world, the customer will tell us what she is interested in and not interested in, what kind of information she wants, what level of service she wants to receive, and how she wants us to communicate with her—where, when, and how often. Remember: CMR is all about making the customer feel like a human being and not like a number.
Can you avoid the two most frequent mistakes companies make?
First, don’t confuse a CMR strategy with a technology implementation. CMR is not technology. Of course, you will require technology applications to enable your CMR strategy—software for the customer database, customer-friendly Web applications, and call center technology, perhaps even interactive mobile devices. All these technologies are secondary. The critical issue is to get your CMR business process right before trying to implement the technology. Remember the advice from Marion Howard-Healy in Chapter 16, “A poor business process that is automated remains just that—a poor process.”
Second, don’t allow your CMR initiative to be seen as an IT project. Everyone in the enterprise must understand that your CMR program is not a technology upgrade. It must be seen as a fundamental change in the quality of your interactions with your customers, designed to make these interactions more effective, better for your customers, and more profitable for the company. You will need technology because understanding, developing, and nurturing customer relationships all require a strong flow of information across the enterprise. Having the right information at the right time and enabling effective interaction across all channels is critical. Make it clear at the start to everyone involved that CMR is a new way of doing business.
Can you change your business strategy?
CMR will require modifying your traditional marketing efforts. It will demand more than promotions and advertising, and will require new tools for customer communication. A challenge for some companies will be getting a CMR strategy in line with the need to grow customer value when the advertising agencies (and their media planners) are more interested in customer acquisition and giving the brand image a makeover. Instead of fighting against CMR projects that appear to threaten their power base, marketing directors will have to recognize the transferability of their skills to CMR and learn to use these tools for more profitable media investments. Your strategy will have to include training programs to teach all personnel the objective of passing control of the relationship to the customer and the effective use of CMR tools. Product managers, sales managers, sales personnel, and others will need to develop customer service strategies, and even product offers, based on customer needs.
Can you retrain the monkeys?
It’s easy to laugh over the story of the monkeys in Chapter 16, but every company does have its culture, and the switch from a company-centric firm to a customer-centric company will require a serious shift in culture. Some in your company will resist the transformation because “We’ve always done it this way,” others will fear loss of power and will resist change to protect their turf, and still others will hold back because they don’t believe that CMR will work. You will need something better than spraying cold water on these folks to change they culture they have lived with for so long. Enlisting associates at all levels in the reengineering process—not just those who are enthusiastic about the project, but the naysayers as well—will help solve this. Once those who start off with negative attitudes become believers, they will become a driving force behind the project and communicate a positive message to others in the company.
Are you ready to let your customer own the information?
Privacy is still a customer concern. Moreover, the privacy fire is constantly fanned by columnists such as William Safire of the New York Times, writing about what he calls “an intrusion explosion.” Safire goes so far as to suggest that privacy advocates should create a simple “privacy index” [of political representatives] so voters can see which politicians are on their side and which don’t care.
Don Schultz had it right. For your customer information to have value for your customers, it should simplify and improve their lives. If it’s really working for the customer—not just the marketer— privacy would not be the issue that it is.
Columnists aren’t going to stop fanning the flames. Politicians aren’t going to miss this easy chance to win votes. Any failure to respect a customer’s privacy—any violation of trust—will turn your customer away.
How will you measure success?
There will come a day when you will have to prove the value of all your CMR efforts. Reviewing the failure rate of customer relationship initiatives, Liz Shahnam, VP and director of CRM, META Group, reports, “When I look under the covers, these folks who experience failure are not talking about technology failure. It’s more about failing to focus that goal that addresses metrics, ROI.”
It is important to establish up front what will constitute success. Achieving CMR is not just better direct mail targeting to reduce mail costs or service center efficiencies to produce savings. You must prioritize existing expenses and reallocate them for more effective customer development. Measure all of your marketing investments against customer relevancy—things that really matter to your customers.