CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – The wider industry agrees on the acronym but everybody in it seems to have their own definition. In order to understand if CRM manages customer relationships I will first look at the various definitions of CRM and then explore if CRM has any impact on customer relationships.
There are literarily thousands of CRM definitions out there, and they all have a few things in common.
CRM is all about:
1. Customer Centric organisations
2. Managing Customer Relationships by gaining customer insights
3. Maximise customer satisfaction, business performance and profitability
When I look at the main points above a number of questions come to mind!
Does CRM deliver a Customer Centric Organisation?
Most CRM consultants will have you believe that CRM requires a customer-centric business philosophy and culture and I fully agree with them, but do CRM Solutions deliver a customer centric view? I think not. Having worked as a CRM Consultant and with a number of CRM vendors I believe there is a fundamental problem with most CRM solutions, they are mostly focused on Sales and Reporting.
Most CRM Solution features a related to sales pipe line, sales management, opportunity analysis Dashboard, Company and sales KPI’s. So how can the organisation be customer-centric when the CRM Solution is NOT? Unless a CRM Solution presents all data from a single customers perspective how is your sales team suppose to gain rapid customer insights? CRM solutions need to deliver 3 main views
1. Customer View
2. Sales Consultant View
3. Company View
ALL CRM data needs to be presented in these 3 main views with a major priority and focus to Customer View which is where we gain insights to maximise customer relationships.
Do CRM Solutions help Manage Customer Relationships?
If we consider how we manage our own personal relationships it’s all about the knowledge that we develop about our friends and family. This knowledge is built over time via our interactions with these people. Understanding what, when, how and why over time allows us to understand and maintain these relationships.
So how do CRM Systems build knowledge via customer interactions? Well to start an interaction is any form of communications such as Meetings, Phone Calls, Emails, Faxes, SMS & Letters. Most CRM Solutions provide tools to enter notes about phone calls and meetings, provide tools to copy and paste emails, faxes, sms and letters but they have 2 main weaknesses.
1. Non Seamless Integration – How many of your organisational staff have the time or the patience to manually upload (Copy & Paste) all these emails, faxs, sms and letters day in and day out. Could their time be better used focusing on the customer? Well if your CRM Solution performed the above automatically it would provide all your staff with a COMPLETE list of all interactions without wasting time and performing mundane tasks.
2. CRM holds information not knowledge– Some CRM system have some very sophisticated sales management tools but provide very little to analyse the interaction data or present it in a simple meaningful way. So the only way to build knowledge from customer interactions is to read the information within the customer file and build your own personal picture which could be problematic because of poor interpretations.
Does CRM Maximise customer satisfaction?
In order to answer this question I derived my own CRM definition which is:
CRM requires a customer-centric business philosophy and culture aimed at understanding, anticipating and managing current and future customers by continually gaining insights into your customers and presenting it appropriately to the various organisational touch points. It’s a journey of strategic processes, organisational change and commitment to streamlining and automating business processes that ultimately deliver the highest levels of customer service, business performance and profitability.
To summarise if your organisation embraces the above, implements a CRM Solution that provides a customer centric view, automates the process of gaining customer insights and finally presents those insights in a simple meaningful way it will enable you to Maximise customer satisfaction, business performance, profitability and customer relationships.
For further information visit: CRM Solutions